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Died, Kith January 1901. 

Religious & Social Reform 

A CollecHoa of Essays and Speeches 



Jitdtre ff. M.'s High Court of Judicature, Advocate ; 
Dean, Bombay University, &c. 



Compiler of Mr. JRanade's "Essays on fndian Economics^' 






INTRODUCTION ... ... ... ... ,. i X. 






V. RAJA RAMA MOHANA ROY ... ... ... If 


VII. REVIVAL AND REFORM... ... ... ... -6 









(From a photo by Bourne and Shepherd, Bombay.) 

" FAITH is the seed I sow, and good works are as the rain that 
fertilizes it ; wisdom and modesty are the parts of the plough, and my 
nLid is the guiding rein. I lay hold of the handle of the Law ; 
earnestness is the goad I use ; and diligence is my draught ox. Thus 
this ploughing is ploughed, destroying the weeds of delusion. The 
harvest that it yields is the ambrosia fruit of Nirvana, and by this 
ploughing all sorrow ends." (jrautama Buddha. 

One who never turned his back, but marched breast-forward ; 

Never doubted clouds would break ; 
Never dreamed, though right were worsted, wrong would, 
Held, we fall to rise, are battled to fight better, 

Sleep to wake. Browning, 


THE papers which have been selected for publication in 
this volume possess a permanent value, as lines laid down for 
genuine progress, which no person will be likely to under- 
rate. Those who may defer from**&lr, Ranade's line oi 
reasoning will have no difficulty, at any rate, in acknowledging 
the clearness of his historical vision, the cogency of his 
arguments, the persuasiveness of his reasoning, the perfect 
candour and sincerity, and above all, his unique selfles^patrk>- 
tism, qualities which secured to him the affectionate interest 
of his countrymen, irrespective of caste or creed, including 
even those who shared few or none of his views on pressing, 
social questions. 

I know of no other countryman ot ours wnose utterances 
exhibit such culture and such clear enunciation of principles 
of conduct and action bearing upon the question of the 
regeneration of his country utterances which cannot be too 
extensively set before those who may be actuated by a like 
ambition to serve their fatherland. It is their deep earnest, 
ness, learning and convincing character which confer so great 
and lasting a value on these papers. They now are and will 
continue to be among the country's most valued intellectual 
treasures. Mr. Ranade's life was one of incessant activity and 
practical work in fulfilment of what he conceived to he the 
mission assigned to him and his colleagues by an over-ruling 
Providence, the fruit whereof was to be nothing less than the 
spiritual and economic emancipation of his country, anc^how 
he fulfilled this mission these papers bear ample testimony. 
My great regret is that Mr. Ranade has passed away before 
I could complete this task of love and lay it at his feet, since 
that it was at his suggestion that I embarked on the 

enterprise. On the score of completeness also it is a matter 
of regret that I have not been able, in spite of careful search, 
to find one more important paper from his pen "The Rise 
and Decay of Female Rights" which he had intended that 
I should include in this collection. 

Apart from my one great reward in undertaking this 
compilation of Mr. 'I^anade's writings, viz., the pleasure of 
reading the different papers with the gifted sage, and learning 
from his own lips the stress of events and circumstances which 
led to their conception and execution, is the anticipation that 
I fnigh* thus be able to perpetuate for the good of the country 
the garnered and aptly expressed wisdom of this latest and 
greaJjst of the country's Risfris. 

It was intended to annex a biographical sketch of the 
authcy, but that part of the work having grown on my hands 
from day to day Mr. Ranade's life being full of varied activi- 
ties comprising almost the entire mental history of the country 
during the second half of the last century, and it being im- 
possible to condense the account within a limited space the 
idea had to ( be dropped, But, I hope, if time and fortune 
favour, to complete what I have already begun and in great 
part executed of a consistent sketch. Meanwhile, I have 
to apologise for the delay in bringing forth this second 
volume of the series, an undertaking I had promised when 
presenting to the public some time ago the first volume of 
Mr. Ranade's writings, c( Essays on Indian Economics." 

My warmest thanks are due to my kind friends, Ardesir 
Framji, Esq., B. A., LLB,, Solicitor ; B. M. Malabari, Esq., and 
Racx Bahadur K. G. Deshpande, B. A., Barrister-at-law, for the 
help, suggestions and advice freely given to enable me to appear 
before the public in the modest garb of a compiler and expositor. 
Ibth January, 1902. 


THE papers which have been selected for publication in 
this volume contain nearly all'* that is of permanent 
interest in the matured utterances of Mr. Ranade, oil 
the several religious and social questions which concern the 
Hindu community. The downward fortune of that com- 
munity in its religious, moral, social and industrial pbases 
forcibly appealed to his patriotic emotion as a catastrophe 
looming in the future if things went on as they had done. Iffe 
believed it to be the peculiar mission of the particular 
branch of the Hindu race to which he* belonged to arrest tbis 
catastrophe, and himself and his colleagues as bound by a sacred 
duty to take the lead. Accordingly, from the first moment 
of his opening public career, he with all the earnestness of his 
nature began to raise a warning voice and call upon his country- 
men to stop and think and arrest the downward mai^h. His 
appeal was the outcome of that intensity of affection foi 
his country and that faith in its ultimate redemption which 
placed him above the reach of his colleagues, *and which gave 
his utterances an almost prophetic strain. It was no use 
disguising the truth that if we did not move with the time, 
we were lost for ever. But this was, accorcfing to Mr. Ranade, 
not to be. Extinction as a nation was not in the decrees of 
fate, and means existed for averting such a result. To preserve 
and to regenerate, and to that end dispel the state of stagna,- 
tion, and to snap the chains of sacerdotal bondage, to rouse 
the sleeping conscience of the nation such was the 
task before him. We had done wrong grievous wrong in 
the past by perverting all true social ideals and were 


bound to make complete atonement if we wished to see our 
fortunes restored once more. This was the way Mr. Ranade 
defined the problem he essayed to solve. Its solution could 
brook no delay, no swerving, no hesitation. To-morrows were 
not to be trusted to in a matter of such moment, and we must 
set to work at oi'ce^ if the threatened calamity was to be 
averted. It was the urgency of the stupendous task he had 
undertaken and the consciousness of the limitations set by 
nature on what individual units, howsoever indefatigable, 
could achieve, which incessantly preyed upon him, gnawing 
into his very heart. That heart has now ceased to throb ; 
Mr. Ranade has now secured that eternal peace which only 
those can attain who die in the full consciousness of having 
done their duty. Bu( not before solid results have been 
attained and the path of kindred spirits made clear. Peace f 
Oh ! that we could comprehend the full meaning of that blessed 
word. If we do, we may yet be warned in time ! No more 
shall we meet Mr. Ranade on this globe, but his example 
remains with us and the fault will be ours if we do not benefit 

thereby. Men like him are the seeds sown by nature, and 
none such are ever destroyed. May his work prevail ! 

We trust Jhe following summary will be found of use, if 
only as a classification of his diverse activities. How Mr. 
Ranade redeemed the promise of his youth and fulfilled his 
mission will be evident fiom the papers now presented to 
the public in a collected form. 


MR. RANADE was one of the leaders of the theistic 
movement of Western Indki 'which was started 
about 1867-68. This movement did not take the 
aggressive form which had been noticed in the earlier 
manifestation of a similar spirit in Bengal. There the Adi 
Brahmos remained strictly Hindus, no doubt professingjtheii 
new faith with all imaginable fervour and piety, but not 
thinking of cutting themselves aloof from the Hindu society. 
But the sober sense of the old generation was not to the liking 
of the younger men, who, led by Keshab Chandra Sen, separated 
voluntarily from the general body of the Adi Bramha Samaja, 
which had been started by the genius of Raja Ram Mohan 
Roy, and was continued by one of his early disciples, Debendra 
Nath Thakur, and the higher Hindu Society in general. The 
seceders called their organization by the name of.the Bh&- 
ratavarshiya Bramha Samaja, i.e., the Bramha Samaja of India 
and New Dispensation, considered themselves as non-Hindus, 
arranged to get a Civil Marriage Act passed for them- 
selves, and in fact formed a separate community by them- 
selves. Later on, the celebration of the marriage of Keshab 
Chandra Sen's child-daughter, contrary fo one of the main 
tenets of the organization, with the Maharaja of Kuch 
Behar, led to the withdrawal of large section of the 
Bramhos. This new section of the seceders formed a separate 
church of their own and named it the Sadharana Bramha 
Samaja. Thus, from the high ideal the Bramhos had set 
before them, they within less than a generation, true to 
the national instinct, split themselves into parties, thereby 

strengthening, however unwillingly, the existence of that very 
Caste system they deplored. 

Thanks to the wisdom of the Western India leaders of the 
Prarthana Samaja movement, the schisms of Bengal were not 
repeated in Bombay, and the supporters of the movement 
remained within r % he pale of their respective communities. 
The Maharashtra had certainly attained a large measure of 
spiritual emancipation long anterior to the advent of Western 
education and thought, and the public here were tolerant 
towards schemes of religious reform ; and though now and 
agaifc such movements were caricatured and ridiculed, they 
came to no great harm by this treatment. Mr. Ranade was not 
a 'Tittle responsible for guiding the movement along the 
lines of least resistance, and some of his deliverances collected 
in this book give ample testimony to this broad and sympathe- 
tic attitude towards the orthodox religious sentiments of the 
Hindus. To use his own utterances at the Poona Conference, he 
wrote : " The peculiar feature of the movement in this Presi- 
dency is that we want to work on no single line, but to work 
on all lines together, and above all not to break with the past 
and cease all connection with our society. We do not proceed 
on the religious basis exclusively, as in Bengal. We have 
the different Samajas, but somehow or other there is some- 
thing in our nature which prevents us from bodily moving 
into another camp. f We do not desire to give up our hold 
on. the old established institutions. Some might say this is 
our weakness others think in it consists our strength/' 

He claimed for his own religion an inspiring historical 
pa^t, and traced it back to the times of the ancient sages 
of Ind. Thus, in his lecture on Raja Ram Mohun Roy, Mr. 
Ranade observed that that eminent reformer was only one 
of the fathers of the Brahma church. " Because I hold, as 
I have said on many other occasions, that we, the mem- 

bers of the Brahma Samaja, can claim a long ancestry, as 
old as any of the sects prevailing in the country. The 
Brahma theistic movement was not first brought into existence 
in 1828. We are representatives of an old race, as old as the 
Bhagwat Gita and the Bhagwat Purana ; much older still : 
as old as Nafeda, Pralhada and Vasudeva and the nine 
sages who visited Janaka. From that time there is a con- 
tinuity of Sadhus and saints down to the present day." 

The same spirit of fair recognition of the past is observable 
when he describes the characteristics of the movement started 
by the founder of the Brahma Samaja. It gives us a*clue%fr 
the same time to his attitude towards the 4 New Dispensation' 
started by Keshab Chandra Sen. Mr. Ranade observes Tfe, 
Raja Ram Mohun Roy, did not regard the Brahma Samaja 
faith as a new dispensation or a new declaration of God's 
purposes. He aspired only to establish harmony between men's 
accepted faith and their practical observances by a strict 
non-idolatrous worship of the one Supreme Soul, a worship 
of the heart and not of the hands, a sacrifice of self and 
not of the possessions of the self." * 

Coming to his religious beliefs we have a clear exposition 
thereof in his " Theist's Confession of Faith," He sets out 
with a list of problems which are in their nature insoluble and 
on which no certain light can be thrown by human cogitation, 
such as the origin of the world, the origin of man, the 
relation between God and the created fjniverse, between the 
spirit or mind and the world of matter. There is, how- 
ever, another set of problems the affirmation of which is to be 
accepted, not indeed on knowledge but on faith, such a% the 
existence of God and the future state, the origin of evil, the 
imperfect liberty of man, the precise destination of the soul 
after leaving the body, and its pre-existence. The state oJ 
perplexity attendant on these he has tried to explain later orj 


when giving the basis of his religious convictions. A prac- 
tical or moral certitude in regard to these is all that is attain- 
able. But science itself is based on no better foundation. 
Thus in his " Thiest's Confession of Faith " he remarks : " The 
questions of religion being of a complex character, unlike 
social and political facts, and being concerned about trans- 
cendental things, it is not possible with our limited vision to 
att?fin to more than the strength of practical moral convic- 
tion on such subjects." The idea is put in a more forcible 
form in his " Philosophy of Indian Theism.'' There he ob- 
?&?ves " We can never demonstrate logically our reasons for 
the faith that we feel in the continuity of Nature and the uni- 
foi uToperation of its laws. All science ultimately resolves itself 
into a product of our faith in the trustworthiness of the 
ever-QJbanging Universe. ' This sense of trustworthiness is 
the* slow growth of ages, but it is none the less the basis of 
scientific truths as we apprehend them. If this basis of faith 
is not repudiated by science, it has equally legitimate claims 
upon our acceptance in the philosophy of the Absolute. 
It not only <iinks us with Nature but it links us and nature 
alike with the Infinite Existence, whose purposes of wisdom 
and benevolence, beauty and power are thereby disclosed to 
our eyes of faith and knowledge ; science thus holds the torch 
of faith to the mystery of religion. 1 ' 

The Theistic idea of God, according to Mr. Ranade, is 
that God is immanent in the Universe, without being merged 
in it or his energy being drawn upon His work, being, 
in the words of the Purusha-sukta, " Bigger than the 
infinite Universe, and encircling as He did, the created 
world of matter and man, exceeded it on all sides/* 
He has also defined it inegatively in another place in the 
following manner : u We can neither hold that the Universe 
isronly the expansion or emanation or manifestation of God's 


extended being; nor that the Universe is without any real 
being, a mere vision or appearance, only seen by us objectively 
distinct by reason ot our ignorance/' 

Mr. Ranade is very much inclined towards the Ramanuja 
sect of Vedantism. In the philosophy, he says : u We have 
these three postulates Chit human soul, Achit matter, and 
Brahma Supreme spirit ; the Chit and\he Achit having no* 
separate existence in the Avyakta, unmanifested from aitd 
appearing separate only when Vyakta, manifested or indivi- 
dualized. Further on he remarks " As a matter of fact, both 
before Shankaracharya's time and after his death, the moglifiec' 
Adwaita system of Ramanuja has played a great part ir, 
Indian philosophy, and to it may be traced the rise afrt 
progress, throughout India, of the Vaishnava sects who have 
attained to a higher and truer conception of theism than ^ny 
of the other prevailing systems." 

His idea of salvation is stated in the following passage 
culled from the Theist's Confession : " When the human 
soul, tried and purified by self-government and resignation, 
acquires habits which enable it, while in the body or on 
leaving the body, to escape its trammels and its lusts, to 
enter into more intimate relation with God, and realize 
vividly the blessings of God's presence and holiness and 
recognize Him to be the Lord, Father and Judge, in whose 
service the soul is bound by love and admiration this 
consummation of the soul is salvation/' 

At the same time he disposes of the other ideals of 
salvation in the following manner : u Translation $ into 
other worlds to enjoy sensual pleasures, or absorption iijto 
God's essence, or awakening to a sense that the human soul 
is identical with God, or gradually sliding into the state of 
passionless Nirvana, these views about salvation held by 
the votaries of different religions, are more or less vitiated 

as being the result of a too aspiring or sensuous vision, and 
are, besides, opposed to our own inner consciousness.'* 

His Confession of Faith has a peculiar value inasmuch 
as it gives us a clear idea of his religious convictions and the 
grounds on which they were based. Regarding idol-worship 
he had said that u x the associations of idol-worship humanize 
(anthropologize ?) or ''father brutalize our conceptions of God. 
The myths which soon gather about it, representing, as they 
often do, the worst license that obtains in human society, 
complete the destruction of all exalting faith by blunting the 
fjonsorience and deadening the intellect." The mellowed 
wisdom of old age, however, only confirmed his earlier 
conception of idol-worship, so far, at any rate, as it was 
practised by the saints of the Deccan. He speaks in no 
uncertain terms about tfieir conviction. " It is a complete 

tr . 

misunderstanding of their thoughts and ideas on this subject 
when it is represented that gifted people were idolaters in 
the objectionable sense of the word. They did not worship 
stocks and stones. In Vedic times there was admittedly no 
idol or image worship. It came into vogue with the acceptance 
of the incarnation theory, and was stimulated by the worship 
of the Jains and Buddhists of their saints. Finally, it got 
mixed up with the fetish-worship of the aboriginal tribes, 
who were received into the Aryan fold, and their gods were 
turned into incarnations of the Aryan deities. The saints and 
prophets, however, rose high above these grovelling concep- 
tions prevalent among the people. Idol-worship was de- 
nounced when the image did not represent the Supreme God." 
This defence of the saints and prophets shows how anxious 
Mr. Ranade was to connect his movement 'with the past. 
Indeed, his estimate of the work done by the saints and 
prophets, beginning with Dnyanadeva in the thirteenth century 
and ending with the close of the eighteenth, gives one an 


impression that in his own work Mr. Ranade aimed at 
convincing Hindu society that he was merely continuing 
the work of the universally respected Maratha saints, 
The good of the past and the good of the present are thus 
indissolubly connected wherever there is a progressive move- 
ment of society. 

He summarises the results of thsVork of these saints in 
this way : ''It (the religious movement) gave us a literature of 
considerable value in the vernacular language of the country. 
It modified the strictness of the old spirit of caste exclusiveness. 
It raised the Shudra classes to a position of spiritual* pow 3$ 
and social importance almost equal to that of the Brahmins. 
It gave sanctity to the family relations, and raised the si5s 
of woman. It made the nation more humane, at the same 
time more pure to hold together* by mutual toleratiofl. It 
suggested and partly carried out a plan of reconciliation w*th 
the Mahomedans. It subordinated the importance of rites 
and ceremonies, and of pilgrimages and fasts, and of learning 
and contemplation to the higher excellence of worship by 
means of Love and Faith. It checked the excesses of polythe- 
ism. It tended in all these ways to raise the nation generally 
to a higher level of capacity, both of thought and action, and 
prepared it in a way no other nation in India was prepared, 
to take the lead in re-establishing a united native power in 
the place of foreign domination. 

These passages will make it clear now Mr. Ranade % tried 
to impress on his countrymen, especially in the closing years 
of his life, his ideas regarding religious and social reforms. 
He did not wish to break the tradition of continuity. He 
did not wish to innovate ; he merely asked his fellow- 
countrymen to carry on the work of the sages the work 
which had led to good results, and which must assuredly 
lead to good results if carried on in the same manner and in 


the same spirit as did the honoured saints of old. There 
was no suggestion of policy or expediency here. It was the 
real truth ; the present is always the child of the past, as 
well in all that is good as in all that is imperfect. 

Mr. Ranade's theistic ideal was high. Of Indian Theism 
he said, " It is associated with no particular saint or prophet, 
though it has rooip* for reverence to all saints and 
prophets. . , . With it the revelation is a perpetual 
stream which never ceases to flow. Above all, Indian Theism 
is built on the rock of the direct communion of the individual 
s/wal w.ith the soul of the Supreme Universe, to which it is 
linked by the tie of faith, hope and love. Indian Theism does 
tusUulimit its education of man to a single trial in the world. 
. The national mind has been cast in a spiritual and 
religipus mould which does not allow it to sink into the worship 
of this world and its riches and powers as the highest object 
of desire, but always looks upon the hereafter as its chief 
resting place. The Universe is not merely His handiwork but 
He is the Soul who fills the Universe and moves it. Lastly, 
Indian Thefem teaches toleration to all, self-sacrifice, and the 
duty of love, not only of man to man, but to all animated 

Such were the religious views of this remarkable man. 
They breathe a spirit of tolerance and love towards all ; and 
it may be stated, without exaggeration, that in practice he 
strove to carry them out to the best of his powers. 


since Mr. Ranade entered public life, the 
two most important social questions that engaged 
his attention were those of Infant Marriage and 
\Vidow Re-marriage. His standpoint on these questions 


may be briefly stated. He was not one of those who 
would abandon society because it tolerates what seems to 
them to be great evils; nor one of those who, after having done 
their best to expose those evils leave society to its fate with a 
sense of sorrow and disappointment. His nature was of 
a sturdier, character and his attitude , towards society was 
the result of a sounder philosophyS He did not wish to 
cut himself adrift from the society of which he was justly 
proud, nor did he rest content with making spasmodic 
efforts to convince his brethren of the serious evils they were 
perpetuating. On the contrary, his efforts were cor/tinucvj& 
and his utterances persistent. He knew that his country- 
men were keen on adhering to the practices of their ~nrl* 
cestors, and that nowhere were religious practices so 
much mixed up with social customs as in India.* His 

1 ^ 9 

speeches and writings, therefore, abound in references 
to old writings, to the injunctions of the law-givers, 
and to ancient usages. And though he had on one 
occasion to attack the revivalists for their extreme zeal 
in trying to bring about a restoration of old practices, he will 
be always found to have been on the side of those who would 
historically justify rational practices and fortify reason by 
an appeal to the past. A few illustrations will suffice. In 
his lecture on " Southern India a Hundred Years Ago," he 
said : "We have not to unlearn our entire past certainly not 
the past which is the glory and wonder of the human race, 
We have to retrace our steps from the period of depression, 
when, in panic and weakness, a compromise was made with 
the brute forces of ignorance and superstition. If this ujiholy 
alliance is set aside, we have the Brahmanism of the first 
three Yugas unfolding itself in all its power and purity, as il 
flourished in the best period of our history.'* Further 
on he says that Reform is really the work of liberation*- 


liberation from the restraints imposed upon an essentially 
superior religion, law and polity, institutions and customs, 
by our surrender to the pressure of mere brute force for 
selfish advancement." Again, on another occasion he said : 
"Most of the customs which we now profess to follow run 
counter to the practices observed in the old times, when 
the Institutes were writ/en. The dependent status of women, 
the customary limits of the age of marriage, the prohibition 
of marriage to widows in the higher castes, the exclusive 
confinement of marriage to one's own division of the sub- 
(?-;:tes into which the country has been split up, the ignor- 
ance and seclusion of women, the appropriation of particular 
Ca%tJ3 to particular professions, the prohibition of foreign 
travel, the inequalities made by the license enjoyed by men, 
and tfce abstentions enforced on women, the jealous isolation 
in matters of social intercourse as regards food and even 
touch, indiscriminate charity to certain castesfor all these 
and many more alienations from the old standards you cannot 
hold the old law-givers responsible. They are the work of 
human hands, concessions made to weakness, abuses substi- 
tuted for the old healthier regulations, They were advisealy 
made by men whose names are not known to ancient histoiy. 
They are interpolations made to bolster up the changes 
introduced about the times when the country had aluady 
gone from bad to worse. They are innovations for which no 
sanction can be pleaded. It may be they were made with the 
best intentions. Admittedly, they have failed to carry oul 
these good intentions, if any, then entertained ; and in sucking 
to upset them and restore the more healthy ideal- they 
superseded, the reformers of the present day are cenau y n- <t 
open to the charge that they are handling roughly our time- 
honoured institutions, It is rather for the reprovers to take 
th?ir stand as defenders of these ancient ordinances and 


denounce those who have set God's law at defiance to suit their 
own purposes. " 

With this clue to Mr. Ranade's attitude in matters 
regarding social reform we shall be able to follow clearly the 
views he sets forth in the following pages. It was not with 
the zest of a philosopher that Mr. Ranade took up the question, 
but rather with the zeal of a physicia\ who finds that his 
favourite patient is threatened with a serious ailment. 


THUS, in his essay on the (< Age of Hindu Marriage," li*. 
observes : " The study of the morbid symptoms of a 
nation's decay is no doubt veVy irksome, but the p^in 
must be endured, and the scruples set aside. The Gordian knot 
tied during centuries of devolution cannot be cut asunder by 
any spasmodic violence. The successive stages of slow decay 
must be closely watched and diagnosed, if we would work out 
the solution of the difficulty." And he did not Jespair of 
success. In the case of an individual the doom of death 
may be irrevocable, but the Aryan population of India, 
numbering one-sixth of the human race, cannot die this slow 
death if proper remedies be applied. " The process of 
recovery may be slow,'* he continues, " but if we stimulate 
the stifled seeds of health and growth,' and lop off dead 
excrescences, decay may yet be arrested, and death success- 
fully averted." 

This diagnosis leads Mr. Ranade to the following two 
conclusions : first, that the Aryan society of the Vedic, 
or more properly speaking, the Grihya Sutra period, presents 
the institution of marriage in a form which recognized female 
liberty and the dignity of womanhood in full, though very 

slight traces of it are seen in the existing order of things 
-except, fortunately, in the old Sanskrit ritual which is still 
recited, and the ceremonies which are still blindly performed ; 
and secondly, that owing to causes which it is not possible 
to trace, there was a retrogradation and Vedic institutions 
were practically abandoned or ignored, and in their place 
usages grew up whi^ri circumscribed female liberty in various 
directions and seriously lowered the dignity of woman in the 
social and family arrangements. 

After a careful examination of the texts of the various 
Swriti writers, Mr. Ranade comes to the conclusion that the 
majority fix the minimum marriageable age at twenty-five in 
tne case of males, and the maximum at fifty. Regarding 
females, marriage at the twelfth year and consummation at the ' 
sixteenth appear thus to be the normal order of things. 
Fortifying himself thus with the authority of the Shastras, he 
appeals to his countrymen to abandon the present practices, 
which set at naught the best traditions of society and 
injunctions of the Shastras, and are, moreover, opposed to all 
considerations of duty and expediency. In calling for a 
change on the old lines the reformers seek, not to 
revolutionise, but to lop off the diseased overgrowth and 
to restore vitality and energy to the social organism. 

The efforts of Mr. Ranade and others at checking the 
evil of infant marriages have borne some fruit. In Raj- 
putana and Malwa the Rajput leaders are gradually trying 
to raise the limit of marriageable age, among the Rajputs, 
Chavans, and other castes. The Mysore State has taken up 
the subject and passed two enactments for the prevention of 
early and ill-assorted marriages. In the Brahma and Arya 
Samajas the marriageable age for girls is raised to fourteen, in 
the one case by law and in the other by voluntary convention; 
and Mr. Ranade hoped that with the advance of female educa- 


tion and a better appreciation of the necessity of female 
emancipation, this great blot, which has disfigured the social 
condition of India for the past thousand years or more, 
would be removed, and the old purity and elevation of marital 
relations restored. 


THE late Pandit Ishwara Chandra Vidya Sagar, the 
great Sanskrit scholar, was the first to agitate 
the question of widow re-marriage. In 1855,* he 
with a number of Hindus in Bengal submitted a petition 
to the Legislative Council of India pointing out that the 
prohibition of widow re-marriage was a cruel and un- 
natural custom, highly prejudicial to the interests of morality, 
and fraught with the most mischievous consequences to 
society ; that this custom was not in accordance with the 
Shastras or with a tiue interpretation of Hindu Law ; but 
according to the interpretation and administration of the law 
such marriages were held illegal, and the issue thereoT deemed 
illegitimate ; that Hindus who otherwise were prepared to 
contract such marriages in spite of religious and social pre- 
judices were prevented from contracting them owing to the 
aforesaid legal disabilities, and concluding with a prayer that a 
law should be enacted removing all legal disabilities attaching 
to the marriage of Hindu widows and declaring the issue of all 
such marriages to be legitimate. Acting on this petition, 
the Legislative Council passed Act XV. of 1856, legalizing the 
marriage of Hindu widows. 

Though widow-marriage thus received the sanction ot 
the legislative authority, it made little progress on account 
of the strong popular feeling against the reform. It was 
therefore found desirable, especially in the Bombay Presi- 


dency, to arouse the public conscience, [and if possible, to 
enlist the sympathy of the orthodox party. The late 
Vishnu Shastri Pandit, a learned Deccani Brahmin, an 
ardent reformer and supporter of widow re-marriage, and 
who subsequently himself contracted marriage with a 
widow, came forward in consultation with Mr. Ranade and 
other friends, to prove its validity even according to the 

It was consequently arranged in 1870 to hold in Poona, 
the centre of orthodoxy, a meeting for the discussion of 
the question of widow-marriage from the point of view of the 
Shastras. His Holiness the Shankaracharya of Sankeshwar, 
the religious head of the majority of the Deccanis, presided 
over the meeting, and he was assisted by ten learned Pandits 
nominated as assessors by either party in equal numbers, 
An umpire was also nominated in case the votes were equally 
divided. The meeting created the greatest possible excitement 
at the time, and both the parties strongly mustered. All 
possible authorities were marshalled ; learned and subtle 
dissertations followed in the shape of questions and answers 
in a manner Sanskrit scholars alone can command. The 
statement of a proposition and its refutation were made in 
the regular order ; the assessors gave their opinions and the 
President gave his judgment. Three assessors were in favour 
of widow-marriage and seven against it ; and the Shankara- 
charya, who in the face of his solemn promise not to bring 
the pressure of his high authority and privilege to bear 
upon the assessors or interfere with their free judgment, wan- 
tonly broke the pledge to secure a majority for the orthodox 
party to which he belonged, followed the whipped-up majority. 
The reformers were not dismayed, and Vishnu Shastri 
Pandit carried on the campaign in the press and on the plat- 
form with undiminished vigour ; while Mr. Ranade helped 


lim with his pen and guided him with his advice. An 
idea of the controversy will be gained from the paper 
u Vedic Authorities for Widow-marriage, '' which was writ- 
ten by Mr. Ranade soon after the deliberations of th e 
Poona meeting. This paper is an able exposition of the 
position of the reformers from the ^ Sliastraic point of 
view. The gist of the argument is that* Parashara is the 
guiding authority in this age, and he has expressly allowed the 
re-marriage of a once-married woman in the five cases of afflic- 
tions, viz., (i) when the[husband has gone abroad and no news 
of him has been obtained ; (2) when the husband is dead ; 
(3) when the husband becomes a Sanyasi recluse; (4) when 
the husband is impotent ; and lastly (5) when the husband 
is guilty of one of the five great unatonable sins. " It is 
to be remarked," observes Mr. Ranade, "that this text 
of Parashara, reviving or re-enacting for this age the old 'aw ; 
is very pregnant with suggestions. In the first place, it is 
expressly intended for the Kaliyuga in which the Smriti 
has precedence over all others. Secondly, it enumerates the 
particular cases of affliction when re-marriage is allowed. 
Thirdly, it refers to the first three castes, for the word JPrav- 
rajita means a Sanyast\ and only members of the higher castes 
can aspire to the dignity. Fourthly, it permits re-marriage, 
though the first marriage has been in every sense completed.'' 
The objection of the orthodox party to this interpreta- 
tion is that the word Pati did not mean a husband but 
simply a protector. What the sages meant was that the 
married women should have another protector in the cases 
mentioned. To this Mr. Ranade replies that the word shourtl 
be taken along with the context. The particular injunction 
is immediately followed by other cases in which another hus- 
band is allowed ; and further, in the latter cases there is no 
question as to the meaning of the disputed word Pati. li 

so, why should the word be interpreted in a different sense in 
only the preceding verse which treats of the same subject ? 
"Moreover, in the text from Manu and Narada about the five 
afflictions, translated above (this is also the Parashara text 
above quoted ) the first word Pati, being understood in 
its proper sense as husband, it is not possible to give any 
other meaning to tlfe second word Pati. The same woman, 
who has lost her first Pati (husband) is, according to 
the text, to take another Pati. if by this were meant 
she was to seek a protector, he cannot be any a (another) 
Pati. He can be anya (another) only with reference to 
the first. Besides, a mere protector can be of no help in 
remedying the affliction which the loss or incapacity 
of the first husband brings with it. A husband who is a 
e.unuch does not become unfit to be a protector of his wife, 
for he can protect and maintain her most comfortably.' r 
Moreover, the law-givers have defined the word Pati to mean 
the husband, and declared that it is after the ceremony of 
taking hold of the hand that, at the seventh step, which the 
bride and bridegroom take together, the bridegroom becomes 
Pati of a certainty. Mr. Ranade continues, " this definition of 
the word ought t/3 silence all doubts as to the interpretation to 
be put upon the word Pati in the texts from Manu and 
Narada quoted before. Together they establish that a second 
marriage is lawful to a woman under the enumerated five 
afflictions, which in the jurisprudence of all other nations, 
have been held to justify dissolution of the marriage tie with 
consequent liberty to marry again.' 1 

* Against this text the orthodox party pitted some prohibi- 
tory texts, but they are very generaland in no way conflict 
with the spirit of Parashara's text. Two new texts wer e 
advanced from inferior Smriti writers which seem to be more 
particular than those previously brought forward. They are 


from Babhravya and Vayu Samhita. These texts are explained 
away by Mr. Ranade thus : " In the first place, these 
texts are fragmentary ones, the books where they are found 
do not exist ; secondly, they are the works of very inferior 
Smriti writers and not to be pitted against Manu, Narada, 
Parashara, Vashistha, &c 4 ; thirdly, they are not so special in 
their particulars as the texts of Parashara which, therefore, 
controls them ; fourthly, that even if they were so special 
in their particular circumstances, the superior efficacy of 
Parashara as the law-giver of the Kali age must prevail ; and 
fifthly, that even if it did not prevail, this conflict of two 
Smritis can only create an optional duty.'' This looks, no 
doubt, like the statement of a defendant in a law suit. But in 
arguing out with persons of the orthodox type there was no 
other alternative. The best argument in this connection 
was the one advanced by Vyankata Shastri, namely th^t, 
admitting the prohibition is applicable to the Kali age, the 
time of application is not yet arrived as the present times are 
included in its Sandhya period which is governed by the 
observances followed in the preceding age, viz., Dwapara, and 
therefore, the prohibitory texts are not only inapplicable now 
but will be so for the next thirty-one thousand years. Thi s 
is turning the tables with a vengeance on the opponents. 
To turn to the main argument, it will be seen that the 
liberty to remarry a widow was given in the previous Yugas 
in seventeen different cases ; the prolrbitory texts restrict 
this liberty to five cases out of the seventeen ; and in this way 
all the authorities are reconciled. This will amplyi justify the 
position taken up Mr. Ranade, whose exposition of the Hindu 
Philosophy and Shastric systems was not involved in a mys- 
terious obscurity ; or only comprehensible by a few selected 
adepts only. He was not only a thinker and the energy of 
a nation's life is in its thinkers but was gifted with 


prophetic ardour and a true missionary zeal, which urged 
him to popularize his ideas among all without exception, men 
and women, high and low, ignorant and learned alike. His 
first principles were rectitude, kindness, singleness of purpose 
and toleration : conditions indispensable for the growth of 
any influence for good which a man can bring to bear upon 
his fellow-beings. To Mr. Ranade there was no magic in any 
outward act though he held it as a useful adjunct ; every one's 
salvation consisted in and depended entirely on a modification 
and growth in his own inner nature, to be brought out by his 
own self-control and diligence, atid which in the result 
resolved itself into intellectual and moral self-culture and 
discipline. Mr. Ranade gives due praise to the late Pandit 
Ishwara Chandra Vidya Sagar in this connection. " By his 
research and originality and the noble devotion of his 
life's best days and all that is prized in human possessions 
to the promotion of this great emancipation of the women 
of his race, Pandit Ishwara Chandra has become a house- 
hold name for all that is great and good in human nature 
throughout India, and a potent influence for good in the 
ages to come." If Ishwara Chandra was so in Bengal, a some- 
what similar position is to be assigned to Mr. Ranade in this 
Presidency, nay in the whole of India, The sight of a 
young widow was a continual torment to Mr. Ranade, and 
the very sound of the word served to conjure up before his 
mind a picture of heart-broken despair that made him 
miserable. Probably no Brahmin in the country felt so 
much for the poor widow's lot and discussed the main 
questions at issue in a manner more original and persuasive. 
Mr. Ranade's concluding observations on this question are 
very interesting. " The agitation of the question for the last 
thirty years has placed the legitimacy of the movement beyond 
all danger, and the Poona discussions brought this fact out in 


a most prominent manner. No question was raised there as 
to the Vedic texts, though special attention was drawn to the 
point ; the argument of Vyankata Shastri was not even noticed. 
The Smriti texts were jumbled up together, the main text, 
common to Manu, Narada and Parashara, was twisted and 
tortured in many ways, some of them most ridiculously absurd, 
and absolutely no attempt was made to show that the only 
true and natural meaning of the text was not the one contend- 
ed for by the advocates. In fact this point was allowed, but it 
was urged that if the text were so understood, it would come 
in conflict with others, as if this was not the most common 
thing in the world with these Smriti writers. The orthodox 
disputants made a mess of their case, and though the majority 
of the Panch gave utterance to a foregone conclusion, the truth 
cannot be so hidden in these days. Thanks to the labours of 
the late lamented Pandit Vishnu Shastri, and more recentty 
of the late Madhavdas Raghunathdas, and Rao Bahadur 
Vamanrao Mahadeva Kolatkar, the movement has spread, 
till at the present day more than a hundred marriages have 
taken place among the Gujerati and the Deccani communities 
of the Bombay Presidency, the Central Provinces and the 
Berars. In the Madras Presidency, Pandit Vireshalingum 
Pantalu has achieved a similar success, nearly thirty marri- 
ages having been celebrated in those parts. In Bengal , 
during Pandit Ishwara Chandra's lifetime many such marriages 
took place, and though since his death :here has been more 
coldness shewn in this matter, the labours of Babu Shashi- 
pada Bannerji have kept up the public interest in this subject. 
In the Punjab, Dewan Santo Rama took the lead, and about 
thirty marriages have been celebrated in those parts. In 
all India over three hundred marriages have thus been cele- 
brated, and the movement may be said to have survived the 
attack of the orthodox opposition. People are being reconciled 


to this renovation of the old custom, and persecution is be- 
coming, not obsolete, but more bearable. The advocates of 
reform may well claim to have secured a healthy change in 
the public feeling in this matter. 7 ' 


I N 1884, Mr. Malabari convulsed the usually apathetic 
I Hindu society with his celebrated Notes on Infant 
^ Marriage and Enforced Widowhood. The times were 
most suitable for the agitition. Lord Ripon's adminis- 
tration had just opened for the indigenous intellect of the 
country a path for political activity. The amendment of the 
Criminal Procedure Bill, better known as the " Ilbert Bill/' by 
which Lord Ripon sought to place European accused on the 
same footing as natives, had roused the enthusiasm of the 
nation. The spirit of equality breathed by the Bill even in the 
modified form which it ultimately assumed had roused to a 
sense of fervid recognition of the boon. Here was Mr. Mala- 

bari's opportunity. If the Indians want a spirit of equality in 

* ... 
politics, why did chey not exercise it in their own domestic 

circle ? Mr. Malabari denounced the customs with his usual 
vigour and earnestness, but not with that winning tact 
which characterises his later writings. In one direction he 
succeeded to a remarkable extent, viz., in creating a lively 
and permanent interest in the subject. It is not my desire 
to describe the course of the agitation or to note the im- 
portant events that followed in the wake of .Mr, Malabari's 
pamphlets, such as, for instance, the Age of Consent Act. 
I mean only to indicate briefly the part Mr. Justice Ranade 
played in the drama of social reform and the great help h e 

rendered to Mr. Malabari in his attempt to induce the British 
Government to interfere even to the extent indicated by the 
above Act. Government has now become more cautious 
than before, and unless the matters complained of came 
within the p;ile of the criminal law, it has. perhaps wisely, 
declared its resolve to firmly follow the policy of non- 
interference. The Government of .India, in their cele- 
brated Resolution of 1886, have declared: u When caste 
or custom lays down a rule which is by its nature 
enforceable in the civil courts, but is clearly opposed 
to morality or public policy, the State will decline to 
enforce it. When caste or custom lays down a rule which 
deals with such matters as are usual 137- left to the option of 
citizens, and which does not need the aid of civil or criminal 

courts for its enforcement, State interference is not considered 

either desirable or expedient." Further on, they observe 1 , 
" Legislation, though it may be didactic in its effect, should 
not be undertaken for merely didactic purposes ; and in the 
competition of influence between legiblation on the one hand, 
and caste or custom on the other, the condition pf success 
on the part of the former is that the Legislature should keep 
within its natural boundaries, and should not, by overstepping 
those boundaries, place itself in direct antagonism to social 

This view of its position, laid down by the British 
Government for its guidance in its execrtive and legislative 
spheres, was not approved of by Mr. Ranade. He felt that 
it was very necessary at certain stages of man's progress to 
secure the assertion of right ideas by the highest sanctions and 
to invoke the action of the State as representing the highest 
and most disinterested wisdom available for the moment, so 
as to give effect to wholesome movements which migh t 
die for want of effective support. tc The State in its collective 


capacity," observes Mr. Ranade, u represents the power, 
the wisdom, the mercy and charity of its best citizens. 
What a single man, or a combination of men, can best 
do on their own account, that the State may not do ; but 
it cannot shirk its duty if it sees its way to remedy evils, which 
no private combination of men can check adequately or which 
it can deal with mo^e speedily and effectively than any private 
combination of men can do. In these latter cases, the State's 
regulating action has its sphere of duty marked out clearly. 
On this, and on this principle alone, can State action be justi- 
fied in many important departments of its activity such as the 
enforcement of education, sanitation, factory legislation, and of 
State undertakings like the postal service, or subsidies given to 
private effort in the way of railway extension and commercial 
development. The regulation of marriageable age has in all 
countries, like the regulation of the age of minority, or the fit 
age for making contracts, been a part of its national jurispru- 
dence, and it cannot be said with justice that this question 
(infant marriage) lies out of its sphere. The same observation 
holds truj of the condition of the widow rendered miserable 
in early life, and thrown helpless on the world. More legiti- 
mately than minors, the widows are the wards of the nation's 

humanity, and to the extent that the evil they suffer is 
remediable by man, it cannot be said that this remedy may 
not be considered by the State as fully within its proper 

To the objection that a foreign Government should not 
interfere in the domestic relations of its subjects, Mr. Ranade 
reolies " that the force of this objection would be irresistible 
if the interference was of foreign initiation. The initiation is 
to be our own, and based chiefly upon the example of our 
venerated past and dictated by the sense of the most 
representative and enlightened men in the community ; and 

all that is sought at the hands of the foreigners is to give to 
this responsible sense, as embodied in the practices and 
usages of the respectable classes, the force and the sanction of 
law." It has, however, been argued by some well-meaning 
critics that Mr. Ranade does not meet the objection that 
once a foreign Government is allowed to intervene in 
our domestic affairs there will be np guarantee that the 
interference will be only at the instance 'of the community 
and not also at the will of the foreigners themselves. Probably 
he did not care to speculate on questions which did not 
require an immediate solution. Hitherto, the initiative has 
been from our own leaders ; and in cases where foreigners have 
no interests to serve and the initiative is to be all our own, 
Mr. Ranade remarks that the distinction between a foreign 
and a domestic Government is a distinction without a 
difference. He was, however, highly considerate and circum- 
spect as to the limitations of the doctrine of State interference. 
Where State interference, though legally, socially and morally 
right, might be irritating and nearly impracticable, he 
always maintained, it would be better to forego for a time 
recourse to this mode of action. Above all he valued peace 
and unity, never tired of explaining the impossibility of a 
divided nation really prospering. Physically speaking, we 
cannot separate. We cannot rend asunder our respective 
sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between 
them. We cannot but remain face to face; and intercourse, 
either amicable or hostile, must continue between us. Why 
should there not be, he would further ask, a patient confidence 
in the ultimate justice of the cause ? Is there any equal or 
better hope in the world ? In our present difference^ is 
either party without faith of being in the right ? If the 
Mighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, 
be on our side, that truth and that justice will surely prevail 


by His divine mercy, formed part of his most cherished senti- 
ments. That sums up Mr. Ranade's creed and it would be 
difficult to find an instance of greater moral courage and 
simple dignity, patient forbearance and kindly fidelity, all 
this combined with a tenacity of purpose but rarely displayed 
with such uniformity and singleness of purpose. 

The tendency of Mr. Ranade in social reform lay always 
towards freeing social relations from the binding character of 
religious injunctions. And in arguing in favour of legis- 
lation, he brings forward the advantage to be gained by a 
change u from the law of status to the law of contract, from 
the restraints of family and caste customs to the self-imposed 
restraints of the free will of the individual." It will also result 
in liberating the national mind from the thraldom of supersti- 
tions. Mr. Ranade, however, was not unmindful of the serious 
nature of the reforms he proposed ; for, he says, u It will be 
necessary to be very circumspect in graduating the change de- 
sired to meet exactly the extent of the evil crying for redress. 
The past century or half a century has effected a change in the 
national sentiment, which, if not recognised to the extent it 
has gone, will only lead to a catastrophe and revulsion of 
feeling that will be simply irresistible, and may involve the 
ruin of many interests dear to the nation's heart." 

Mr. Ranade, speaking as the representative of the re- 
formers on the Bombay side, summarizes their views in the 
following paragraph : 

"We would, to start with, fix twelve and eighteen as 
the minimum ages of marriage for girls and boys. Marriages 
contracted before this age should be discouraged, not by 
pains and penalties of the criminal law, but by the attendant 
risk of making them liable to be ignored, as in the case of 
contracts entered into by minors, liable to be ignored or set 
aside in case of disputes in the civil courts for sufficient reasons. 

Marriage, unless consummated, by actual cohabitation, should 
not be recognized as a perfect union before the limits laid 
down above are reached. Before such consummation, the 
girl should not be recognized as having become one with the 
husband in Gotra, Pinda, and Sntaka. This is the ancient law, 
and our revival of it will do away with the superstition which 
paralyses the action of parents in dealing with the misery 
of child widows. We would on no account permit disfigure- 
ment except after twenty-five years, when the widow may be 
presumed to be able to realize the circumstances of her posi- 
tion, and can choose deliberately the celibate course of life. 
Under no circumstances should one wife be superseded by a 
second connection, except under the safeguards recognized 
by Manu and other writers. The widow's forfeiture of her 
husband's estate as a consequence of her second marrir^e 
should be done away with, and her life interest in her 
husband's inheritance should remain intact, whatever her 
choice of life might be. The marriage of a widower above 
fifty with girls below fourteen should be strictly prohibited as 
being opposed to the most approved Smriti texts." 

Mr. Ranade's love for his count ly was so deep and 
genuine, his concern for the regeneration of his country- 
men so acute and deep-seated, that he always welcomed with 
prompt good judgment, all accessory help, whether it came 
from the foreign rulers of the country, or from the en- 
lightened rulers of the Native States or from the frigid 
and lonesome old-fashioned ecclesiastical authorities, their 
Holinesses the Shankaracharyas, and the much scandalized 
Shastris the repositories of all ancient lore, customs, usages 
and much more that is, 'faultily faultless, icily regular and 
splendidly null,' proving himself an apt utilitarian, always 
seeking, nay creating preparatory opportunities to further the 
attainment of his nation's predestined goal, the fulfilment of 


which might otherwise be retarded. Writing to the late 
Mr. Justice Telang about the Shankaracharyas, and cognate 
questions, he said, " I am, I frankly confess, not one of those 
who think that there are not many reform questions in which 
we shall not be greatly helped if persons in the position of 
the Sankeshwar Svvamis are open to our arguments, and 
even if not actively on our side, are prepared to welcome 
some modifications. The position that reformers ought to 
regard all old ecclesiastical authorities as their open enemies, 
is one which I regard as childish, and one which nobody in 
active life will venture on urging for a moment. These 
authorities have their uses, and no great or good purpose is 
served by ignoring them or treating them with contempt. 
There are some matters in which we must stand out but there 
is no reason why we should stand out on all matters simply 
for the fun of the thing. It is these public interests ivhich move 
me and 1 have deemed it necessary * to refer to them here be- 
cause you were good enough to ask me what I thought of 
the matter. Even if the Swami was not prepared to help 
me on all lines, I should prefer to see him in a mind to 
realize that we had a side to be considered, and to be agreeable 
to fair compromise." This spirit of public interest and utility 
was the keynote of all Mr. Ranade's actions throughout his 

Mr. Ranade's advocacy of State interference bore some 
fruit for the Mysore Government passed, in 1894, two regula- 
tions for the prevention of early and old ill-assorted marriages. 
Even the Madras Government was converted to his views and 
it brought similar Bills into its Legislative Council. But the 
Government of India vetoed them, probably "basing their 
action on the Resolution previously referred to. However, in 
1897, a special law was passed in the case of the Nairs 

' " * The italics are ours! 

permitting those who cared to avail themselves of it to under- 
go the form of a civil marriage with all its legal consequences. 
Eighty-three marriages were celebrated under the Act during 
the last four years, and probably many more marriages would 
have been celebrated but for the fact that another Act passed 
a year later gives the Nairs wide testamentary powers for dis- 
posing of their property, and hence the. chief inducement for 
contracting civil marriages under the former Act is taken away 
from the community. About 1895, in the Baroda State, a 
measure for the prevention of infant marriages was resolved 
on and a Bill was prepared, but owing to unforeseen difficulties 
the measure was temporarily laid aside. The Gaekwar's 
Government has, however, shown greater activity in -social 
legislation since the time Mr. Ranade made the above 
remarks. The Baroda State has recently passed an Act 
legalising widow marriage in the higher castes, and it is 
stated that the Infant Marriage Bill will be soon taken 
up together with a Civil Marriage Bill. It will be thus seen 
that though the British Government has perhaps properly 
hesitated to take up social legislation, enlightened Native 
States, such as Mysore and Baroda, have rightly undertaken it. 


Mr. Ranade's interest in social reform was not exhausted 
by these two questions, though they were the most prominent 
planks in his platform. In his great speech on ** Revival and 
Reform," delivered at the Social Conference at Amraoti, he 
passed in review all the different phases of activity in which 
the social reformers were engaged. They included fernale 
education, widow marriage, foreign travel, intermarriages 
between sub-sections, postponement of infant marriages, pro- 
hibition of ill-assorted marriages, the purity movement 


comprising the anti-nautch and temperance agitations ; 
admission of converts from other faiths ; reduction in extrava- 
gant marriage expenses, and similar other questions vitally 
affecting the social fabric of the Hindus. 

English education lias acted as an irritant in the social 
organism of the Hindus, and the activities in social, political, 
and even in religious spheres have been the result of the 
dominant influence of foreign ideas. But these have brought 
in their train materialistic tendencies that threaten to under- 
mine the orthodox Hindu society. At an early date, accor- 
dingly, a reaction followed ; and people began to admire 
everything that was best and permanent in the Hindu social 
structure. Impassioned appeals were made to trace our 
steps back to the olden times, and to bring back the pristine 
glory of ancient India, the land of sages, philosophers, poets, 
scientists, warriors and artists. Even Mr. Ranade in his 
addresses has often advocated this return to past practices. 
44 Fortunately," he wrote, "the causes which brought en 
this degradation have been counteracted by providential 
guidance, and we have now a living example before us of 
how pure Aryan customs, unaffected by barbarous laws 
and patriarchal notions, resemble our own ancient usages, 
to take up the thread where we dropped it under foreign 
and barbarous pressure, and restore the old healthy 
practices, rendered so dear by their association with our 
best days, and justified by that higher reason which 
is the sanction of God in man's bosom." Such appeals are 
very common in his addresses and his main object in making 
them was to enlist the sympathy of the orthodox party in 
the cause of social reform. But when he found that the cry 
was taken up in its literal sense, and that people were admiring 
indiscriminately everything that was old, simply because it was 
old, he had need to explain himself and ask those who simply 


insisted on an indiscriminate return to ancient practices with- 
out considering whether those practices would altogether suit 
the changed circumstances of society. It is in this view alone 
that Mr. Ranade's attack on the revivalists is interesting ; for, 
in the succeeding lectures he is again referring to the good 
customs of yore which gave liberty to women and allowed 
voluntary marriages at a maturer age and with greater 
freedom. The quotation is a long one, but it will icpay 
perusal . 

*' I have many friends in this camp of extreme orthodoxy, 
and their watchword is that revival, and not reform, should 
be our motto. . . . When we are asked to revive cW 
old institutions and customs, people seem to me to be very 
much at sea as to what it is they seek to revive. What 
particular period of our history is to be taken as the old 
whether the period of the Vedas, of the Smritis, of the* 
Puranas, or of the Mahomedans, or the modern Hindu times ? 
Our usages have been changed from time to time by a slow 
process of growth, and in some cases of decay and corruption, 
and you cannot stop at any particular period without breaking 
the continuity of the whole. . . . What shall we revive ? 
Shall we revive the old habits of our people when the 
most sacred of our castes indulged in all the abominations, 
as we now understand them, of animal food and intoxicat 
ing drink, which exhausted every bectkm of our country 'b 
Zoology and Botany? The men and the gods of these old 
days ale and drank forbidden things to excess, in a way 
no revivalist will now venture to recommend. Shall we 
revive the twelve forms of sons, or eight forms of marriage, 
which included capture and illegitimate intercourse ? Shall 
we revive the old liberties taken by the Rishes and by 
the wheb of Rishes with the marital tie? Shall we revive 
he hecatombs of animals sacrificed from year's end to 

year's end, in which even human beings were not spared 
as propitiatory offerings to God ? Shall we revive the Shakti 
worship of the left hand, with its indecencies and practical 
debaucheries ? Shall we revive the Sati and infanticide 
customs, or the flinging of living men into the rivers or over 
rocks, or hook-swinging, or the crushing beneath the Jagan- 
natha car ? Shall we revive the internecine wars of the 
Brahmins and thu Kshatriyas or the cruel persecution and 
degradation of the aboriginal population ? Shall we revive 
the custom of many husbands to one wife or of many wives 
to one husband ? Shall we require oar Brahmins to cease 
to be landlords and gentlemen, and turn into beggars and 
dependents upon the king as in olden times?'' 

This was carrying to their logical consequences the argu- 
ments of those who seek the revival of the old customs. 
This language is plain enough, and by no means undeserved 
of those revivalists whose shibboleth of revivalism means the 
very reverse of what Mr. Ranade meant and intended. Between 
Mr. Ranade who desired to revive the ancient practices of 
widow-marriage and marriage between grown-up persons, 
and those of the revivalists who desire to practise the purer 
forms of ancient religion and ancient social customs there is 
only a difference of degree. He thought, and on sufficient data, 
that they were only changing the outward form, and not the 
spirit which has given rise to the present pernicious customs. 
In this matter, whatever may be our judgment regarding his 
attitude towards the revivalists, we must admit the soundness 
of the position he took up in diagnosing the causes of 
our social downfall. The ideas which have been hastening our 
decline during the past are isolation, submission to outward 
conventionality more than to the voice of the inward consci- 
ence, perception of factitious difference between men and men 
due to heredity and birth, a passive acquiescence in evil or 


wrongdoing, and a general indifference to secular well-being 
almost bordering upon fatalism. "These have been the root 
ideas of our social system. They have, as their natural result, 
led to the existing family arrangements, where the woman is 
entirely subordinated to the man, and the lower castes to 
the higher castes, to the length of denrivmor men of their 
natural respect to humanity." Mr. Ranade's remedies may 
be thus summed up : in place of exclusiveness we must have 
fraternity, or rather elastic expansiveness, and cohesion in 
society ; instead of submitting to outward dictation we must 
try to respect the God in us, that is to say, we must 
learn to be guided by our conscience, the wisdom of sages 
coming only to our aid and not to overpower us ; instead 
of being blind believers in heredity, birth and the laws of 
Karma, we must try to improve our condition and bring 
about self regeneration by properly training our will-power ;* 
and instead of passively acquiescing in wrong or evil-doing as 
an inevitable condition oi human life, we must try to cultivate 
a healthy sense of the true responsibility and dignity of our 
nature and of high destiny as men. u We have ] ost our 
stature," says Mr. Ranade, " we are bent in a hundred places, 
our eyes lust after forbidden things, our ears desire to hear 
scandals about our neighbours, our tongue wants to taste 
forbidden fruit, our hands itch for another man's property, 
our bowels are deranged with indigestible food. We cannot 
walk on our feet but require stilts or crutches. 1 ' 

" Reforms in the matter of infant marriage and enforced 
widowhood, in the matter of temperance and purity, inter- 
marriages between castes, the elevation of the low castes, and 
the readmission of converts, and regulations of our endow- 
ments and charity, are reforms, only so far and no further, as 
they check the influence of the old ideas and promote the 
growth of the new tendencies," Mr. Ranade has out an 


exquisite ideal before the reformer. " The reformer has to 
infuse in himself the light and warmth of nature, and he can 
only do it by purifying and improving himself and his sur- 
roundings. He must have his family, village, tribe and nation 
recast in other and new moulds, and that is the reason why 
social reform becomes an obligatory duty, and not a mere 
pastime which might be given up at pleasure.'* 


PEAKING about the Telang School of Thought, Mr. 
Ranade described hopefulness as one of the signs that 
distinguished that school from others. But in none 
was this special feature developed to a greater extent than in 
Mr. Ranade himself, who went on doing his work undismayed 
by failure and undated with success. "The sturdy hopeful- 
ness is," he observes, " the golden mean between stolid 
indifference to change and the sanguineness of temper which 
desires to accomplish the work cf centuries in as many 
decades, and the work of decades in as many years, and the 
work of years in as many days." People of the latter class 
do not continue the work in the true spirit of hopefulness 
and are to be distinguished from those who, while they feel 
hopeful of the final result, are still weighed down with the 
thought that they have to undergo a long discipline, and have 
no heart for boisterous displa}'s or dreams of mock revivals 
of past glory." The ground for this hopefulness lies in 
the past history of this country. " You may take the 
map of Asia, Europe, Africa or America, and you will find 
that there is no other country in the world'which presents 
such a continuity of existence over such a long period 
of time. Races and creeds have risen, thrived and decayed 


in other lands, but India is so favoured that, notwith- 
standing its abasement in many other particulars, the people 
of this country have been preserved from dangers, as though 
they were a people with a special mission entrusted to them- 
. . . . If the miraculous preservation of a few thousand 
Jews had a purpose, this more miraculous preservation of 
one-fifth of the human race is not due to mere chance. We 
are under the severe discipline of a high purpose." 

It may be observed that Mr. Ranade's vision of national 
regeneration expanded with age, and that though his main 
efforts were directed to the revival of the fallen fortunes of his 
own race, he came to see from an early date that the fat^ of 
the second great factor of the Indian nationality was neces- 
sarily connected with the other. Even in the questions of 
social reform Mr. Ranade found a common platform for both 
races to work upon. In his address, delivered at the Socirl 
Conference in Lucknow, he remarks : " Everyieffort on the part 
of either Hindus or Mahomedans to regard their interests as 
separate and distinct, and every attempt made by the two 
communities to create separate schools and interests among 
themselves, and not to heal up the wounds inflicted by mutual 
hatred of caste and creed, must be deprecated on all hands." 
In this respect, he fears, we have departed from the excellent 
example started by Akbar ; especially when it is borne in 
mind that the ills that we are suffering from are self-inflicted 
and their cure is to a large extent in our own hands. Pursuit of 
high ideals, mutual sympathy and co-operation, perfect toler- 
ance, a correct understanding of the diseases from which the 
body politic is suffering, and an earnest desire to apply suitable 
remedies this is the work cut out for the present generatioji. 
The goal to be achieved does not lie in any particular advan- 
tage to be gained in power and wealth, though that may be 
the natural result of reaching the goal. It is represented by 


he efforts to attain it, the expansion and the elevation of the 
heart and the mind, which will make us stronger and braver, 
purer and truer men. . . . Both Hindus and Mahornedans 
have their work cut out in this struggle. In the backward- 
ness of female education, in the disposition to overleap the 
bounds of their own religion, in matters of temperance, in their 
internal dissensions between castes and creeds, in the indulgence 
of impure speech, thought and action on occasions when they 
are disposed to enjoy themselves, in the abuses of many 
customs in regard to unequal and polygamous marriages, 
in the desire to be extravagant in their expenditure on such 
occasions, in the neglect of regulated charity, in the decay 
of public spirit, in insisting on the proper management of 
endowments in these and other matters both communities 
are equal sinners, and there is thus much common ground 
*-JY improvement on common lines." 


ANOTHER great characteristic of Mr. Ranade that 
will be noticed in his writings is his desire to see his 
country progress in all departments of human acti- 
vity. In describing what has come to be called the Telang 
School, whose watchward is movement in the line of least resis- 
tance, he urged that the work to be accomplished was not one- 
sided or piecemeal. " The liberation that has to be sought is 
not in one department of life, or one sort of activity, or in one 
sphere of thought, but it is an all-round work, in which you 
cannot dissociate one activity from another." Later on, in his 
address delivered at the Provincial Conference at Satara he 
pressed home the same lesson on his hearers, u Politics is 
not merely petitioning and memorialising for gifts and 

favours. Gifts and favours are of no value unless we have 
deserved the concessions by our own elevation and our own 
struggles. ( You shall live by the sweat of your brow ' is not 
a curse pronounced on man, but the very condition of his 
existence and growth. Whether in the political, social, 
religious, commercial, manufacturing or xsjhetical spheres' 
in literature, science or art, in war or in peace, it is the 
individual and collective man who has to develop his powers 
by his own exertions in conquering the difficulties in his way. 
If he is down for the time, he has to get up with the whole 
of his strength, physical, moral and intellectual, and you may 
as well suppose that he can develop one of these elements of 
strength and neglect the others, as try to separate the light 
from the heat of the sun or the beauty and fragrance from 
the rose. You cannot have a good social system when you 
find yourself low in the scale of political rights, nor can you 
be fit to exercise political rights and privileges unless your 
social system is based on reason and justice. You cannot 
have a good economical system when your social arrange- 
ments are imperfect. If your religious ideals are low and 
grovelling, you cannot succeed in social, economical or politi- 
cal spheres. This interdependence is not an accident but is 
the law of our nature. Like the members of our body you 
cannot have strength in the hands and the feet, if your 
internal organs are in disorder. What applies to the human 
body holds good of the collective humanity we call the 
society or State. It is a mistaken view which divorces con- 
siderations political from social and economical, and no man 
can be said to realize his duty in one aspect who neglects his 
duties in the other directions." 

This was the ideal Mr. Ranade placed before his 
countrymen and which he tried to realise, as far as possible, 
in his own case. And it mav be said without the least ex- 


aggeration that there was no kind of activity in the land with 
which he was not in touch and which he did not try to help 
on by his personal support and to the best of his power. And 
the inspiration he has left to us as our heritage might be 
appropriately expressed in the terms of Gautama Buddha's 
dying words to his disciple Ananda : " You may, perhaps, begin 
to think, ' the word is ended now, our teacher is gone : ' but you 
must not think so. After I am dead let the Law and the Rules 
of the Order, which I have taught, be a Teacher to you." 

Essays on Religious and 
Social Reform, 



K I EARLY three thousand years ago, in one of t^e 
I M primeval forests of Northern India, Bhrigu, the 
^ son of Varuna, approached his father, and en- 

treated him to teach him what Bramha was that Bramha 
from which all beings sprung into existence, that which 
keeps them alive when born, and that to which they 
tend, and in which they are finally absorbed. His father, 
Varuna, told him at first that Bramha was Food, as Food 
generated life and sustained it after birth, and finally 
on decay resolved itself into the food of other generations 
of life and being. Bhrigu long pondered over the matter, 
but was not satisfied with the finality or sufficiency of 
the explanation. He again approached his father with 
the same question, and he was successively told that 
Bramha was the Breath of life, that Bramha was the 
Mind, that Bramha was self-conscious Reason. None 
of these answers stood the test of Bhrigu's further thought, 
and finally, he was told that Bramha was the Joy and 
the Blessedness which pervaded the universe ; and this 
reply satisfied the deepest cravings of the young student. 

* Delivered at the Free General Assembly's Wilson College. 

2 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

These three stages of thought, the first stage representing 
'Sat/ ' absolute existence/ as the cause of all inani- 
mate or animate matter, second 'Chit/ identifying 
it with ' mind and self-conscious reason', and the third 
'Ananda/ as the source of all ' joy and blessedness/ 
these three stages represent the three different phases 
of thought, which have dominated over men's minds 
throughout history. The spirit of joy and blessedness 
here described is further spoken of as pervading the 
universe. l If there were no spirit of joy in this Universe, 
who could live and breathe in this world of life ?' Yaj- 
navalkya Upanishad. He makes us feel joy and gives 
us peace of mind when it becomes sinless and fearless. 
This represents the practical side of the subject I propose 
to-day to take up for your consideration. 

There are those among us who are disposed to think 
that we have had enough of these old-world topics about 
birth and death, soul and immortality, sin and punish- 
ment, and all that can be known about them has been 
discovered long since, and all beyond the first few steps 
is mere blind guess. They would dissuade men from 
the pursuit of this wild goose chase, and characterize 
the students of this dismal science as preternaturally 
old men. They will have us turn to more useful pur- 
suits, which will secure for us the comforts of this 
world, as the world understands comforts. Now, if there 
has been any feature of our national history which has 
been its glory and its re\vard for much suffering, it is 
the firm belief that ' not what a man "hath, but what a 
man is, or can become/ constitutes his real wealth. This 
is the protest which Indian thought has raised from all 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 3 

time, and which, it will continue to raise to the end of 
time. The contrary view derives also no support from 
the highest Christian or European ideals before us. The 
whole mission of Christianity and civilization is mean- 
ingless for those who read in it nothing but the progress 
of physical comforts, and in the means of 'realizing them 
On this point, as in others, the highest teaching of the 
two religions is identically the same. When the great 
Apostle of the Gentiles reached Athens, he addressed 
the Athenians by appealing to the Unknown God to 
whom they had erected an altar, and he described the 
Bramha in words, which are only a paraphrase of the 
passage quoted at the beginning from the Upanishad : 
In Him we live and move, and have our being, that is, 
outside Him there is neither life nor motion nor** 
being possible. 

The hand of God in History is but dimly seen by 
those who cannot recognize in the contact of European 
with Eastern thought a higher possibility for thej future 
of both races. Already the morning dawn is upon us, 
and we can see glimpses of the bright future reflected 
in our ability to see and appreciate each other's strength 
and excellence. Not to refer to the Theosophical move- 
ment, have we not seen before our eyes the fact that 
for the "first time after many centuries of stagnation, 
Indian preachers are reciprocating in other lands the 
sympathy which sends to our shores the many thousand 
missionaries, who have laboured among us for generations 
to spread the truth as they understand it. The labours 
of English and German Professors are taking a new 
turn, and the foundations of the Gifford and Hibbert 

4 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

series of lectures, and the holding of the Parliament of 
Religions, these are not events which we can afford to 
ignore or which it will profit us to pass by unheeded. 
The Lectures of Dr. Fraser on the Philosophy of Theism, 
of which I propose to give you a brief summary to-night, 
from an Indian student's point of view, are an important 
contribution towards this same end, and I am firmly 
persuaded that I cannot hope to find a more appro- 
priate place for dwelling on this subject than the pre- 
mises of a College which represents the highest philan- 
thropy of the West actively at work in the East. 

What, then, is the problem which the Philosophy 
of Theism proposes to solve ? This is how Dr. Fraser 
puts it : What is the deepest and truest interpretation 
that can be put by man upon the immeasurable actuality 
with which he is brought in contact and collision ever 
since he becomes percipient and self-conscious ? In what 
sort of environment, and for what purpose do I exist ? 
What h this Universe for ever changing the appearances 
it presents to me ? What is the origin and outcome of 
this endless flux ? Is the principle which finally deter- 
mines all events reasonable and trustworthy or chaotic 
and misleading, or must man for ever remain ignorant 
about this and unable to adapt himself to it ? What 
light can enlighten me upon my present duties or my 
final destiny as part of this mysterious whole ? 

The eminently human character of these questions 
tfill be at once perceived by those who are not blinded 
to their importance. If there was no human element 
in them, or as our forefathers said, if there was no ' Rasa/ 
' light and sweetness' in them, it is hardly intelli- 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 5 

gible why the highest thought of man in all ages and 
countries has been busy over this mystery! It is our 
highest privilege that we feel the full force of this 
mystery and are drawn towards it. This is the highest 
fruition of humanity and its final goal. The awe it 
inspires is the seed of all religion. The devotion of the 
mind to this study of the Infinite is the working force 
of philosophy. The successive steps of progress towards 
this knowledge constitutes 1 ' the hierarchy of science. The 
existence of evil and sin here below, and the contem- 
plation of Death and what becomes of us after deatji, 
intensify the human character of such studies and make 
us pause, with Shakespeare, to consider if Death is sleep, 
or a dream, or else only a shuffling off of the mortal 
coil. Both individual and social well-being depend upon* 
the answer we give to this question of questions. It 
dominates morals, it shapes our legislation and the 
practical art of government. In the words of the 
Upanishad, " If there be no spirit of joy over-ruling th 
Universe, how can we live and breathe in this world of 
life f " Yajnawalkya. 

Having proposed the problem and shown its human 
character, we have next to see what final interpretations 
have been attempted of this problem of existence, the 
articulations, so to speak, of the human mind with 
reference to it. The two postulates underlying all 
thought are, the ' I ' and the ' Non-I/ the subject and 
the object. This is the quality of finite existence, each 
a mystery by itself. This is, however no t an ultimate 
analysis ; for the question arises when the Infinite and 
the Eternal dawns upon us, whether besides the Ego and 

6 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the Non-Ego there is a third postulate of supreme 
existence which synthesises both, by being in and 
outside both the one in which and by which we 
live and move and have our being. In the 
philosophy of the Ramanuja sect of Vedantism, 
we have these three postulates, ' Chit/ human soul, 
'Achit/ ir * 4 :^, and ' Bramha/ Supreme spirit; the 
Chit and Achit having no separate existence, 
from Bramha, in the 'Awyakta/ unmanifested 
form, and appearing separate only when ' Wyakta/ 
iranifested or individualized. This same view is 
in all other Indian systems of philosophy variously 
emphasised, some maintaining the existence of three 
separate principles, others two, and some affirming 
only the real existence of one principle. In the 
European systems of philosophy also, the difference 
between system and system resolves itself into the 
exaggeration of one or other of these first postulates 
to the point of negativing the absolute separate existence 
of the other two. One thing, however, is common to 
all : the human mind is not at rest with the dual solution 
of the Finite, which alone its senses grasp. It yearns 
to find the Finite linked together in some bond with 
the Infinite ; it may be by faith or reason, hope or 
fear, by aspiration or by love. Man finds that his own 
existence for a moment of time is not intelligible unless 
there is a background for it to rest upon. He feels 
that the flux of things is not intelligible unless it also 
finds its rest in something which knows no flux. 
Whether the Infinite Being is potential matter, energy 
mind or spirit, these are the points on which philoso- 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 1 

phy has proposed various interpretations and solutions. 
The mystery surrounding this third postulate of exis- 
tence is not more enigmatical than what is involved 
in a right understanding of what constitutes the Ego 
and the Non-Ego. We cannot comprehend the one 
more clearly than the other. Each of us can realize 
the fact that he exists, and that sor^Hng outside 
him also exists. His own existence and the existence 
of the Non-Ego become more intelligible to him when 
he also learns to realize the existence of the Infinite. 

All the errors of superstition, scepticism and 
mysticism spring up from our inability to keep our 
hold on the three distinct postulates of existence. We 
should not either explain away or exaggerate any of 
them. When we localize God in place or time ani 
connect Him with uncommon particular events or places, 
superstition creeps in and overturns the balance of our 
mind. When we exaggerate our own powers we end 
in mysticism. When we unduly allow nature and her 
forms to dazzle us, and belittle our capacities, we 
become sceptical. It will be useful to see what ele- 
ment of partial truth and falsehood there is, in each 
of the systems which exaggerate and emphasize the 
one or the other postulate of existence to the pre- 
judice of the others linked with it inseparably. 
And first of materialism, which sits at the feet 
of the material forces and magnifies nature and its 
powers. In European thought this school has oc^u- 
pied a more prominent position during the last few 
centuries than it ever occupied in this country. But 
even in our land two out of the six Darsanas are 

8 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

partially or wholly materialistic, that of the Sankhya 
system of Kapila and the atomic system of Kannada 
As a corrective of extreme idealism, this philosophy 
has done good service. Its other service to humanity 
is that it has laid the axe at the root of that con- 
ception of the Universe, which made the earth the 
centre of tV~ universe and man the centre of the 
world. The sun and the moon, it was thought, shine 
for us, the planets revolve and the stars twinkle for our 
benefit. The anthropomorphic conception of God rul- 
ing men and things as a great patriarch of old with 
the full display of exaggerated human passions and 
force, and also human weaknesses at times, this con- 
ception has been dissipated by the discoveries of modern 
science which have reduced the earth to its true in- 
significance and man to his true position on earth, so far 
as he is a physical being. The discoveries of Astro- 
nomy and Geology have especially led to this result, 
and they have enabled men to understand the full 
mystery of the Infinite in space and time. Scientific 
evolution has also enlarged men's conceptions of the 
methods of operations pursued in the genesis of life 
and being. The equivalence and conversion of different 
kinds of force have paved the way to much clear- 
ness of thought on these and kindred subjects. The 
brilliancy of these results led men to the other ex- 
treme and to dream of abolishing mind and spirit 
altogether from the universe. This mechanical and 
chemical interpretation of nature, however, solves no- 
thing. It takes us a step or two back and then it 
leaves the mind more bewildered in the labyrinth o 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 

chaos. The manner of working is explained to some 
extent, by the interpretation of second causes, but the 
efficient and ultimate cause remains as shrouded as 
ever, and as impervious to human vision as when Moses 
saw the glory on the top of Sinai and received the 
Commandments. Materialism explains co-sequence and 
not causation, and it explains co-sequ^^* . by making 
it out to be a casual assemblage of atoms chancing 
to evolve order out of chaos. This solution appears 
to give no satisfaction to the enquirer. Shankara- 
charya has in his Bhashya very cleverly turned f he 
tables on the atomic theorist. 

The first quality of matter is inertia, so our senses 
tell us. This inertia is overcome by force outside it, 
and what is this force or energy is still as much a 
mystery as the m) T stery of mind and spirit. Why 
should the molecules be attracted and repelled in a 
particular way through all time and space? And then, 
if mind and spirit is left out of view, how comes it 
that this casual combination of molecules results in 
the ascending scale of first, of life, next of conscious 
life, further on of thought, self-conciousness and 
responsible will, which does not come within the do- 
main of chances, but is guided by purpose which is 
the negation of chances? This philosophy thus fails 
to interpret nature where it most needs rational in- 
terpretation. The anthropomorphic conception of a 
patriarchal God is more intelligible than this mate- 
rialistic conception of nature without a Providence over- 
ruling it to accomplish purposed ends. Society, law, 
morals, poetry and art, not more than theology, thus 

10 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

become anachronisms or solecisms, if man and nature 
are interpreted, as chance combinations of molecules 
brought out without purpose and both liable to be 
dis-severed by chance at any time. Man feels instinc- 
tively that this surely is not a rational interpretation 
of the order he sees in the Universe. 

He the,. T^Ils back on himself, and begins to think 
that there is no truth in this universal flux of things 
about him, and that the only reality is himself. 
Things exist for him only, because he perceives them. 
OuLside his perception of form and colour, primary 
and secondary qualities, things have no existence in 
themselves, and from this the inference is drawn that 
the only real existence is the individual soul. Homo 
JMensura becomes the rule of thought. It is a useful 
guide within certain limits, but when pushed too far 
it comes self-destructive. Self-consciousness may be a 
good reason for man's certain belief that he exists, 
but it is hardly sufficient to make him equally assured 
that the external world of matter and force obeys any 
laws or enjoys permanence outside his changing con- 
sciousness about it. Science thus becomes impossible, 
when scientific truths have no basis except in the 
fiction of his brain, and even sentient beings like 
himself have no existence independently of his belief 
about them. This comes out logically as the result 
of any philosophy which makes the individual soul 
the final and only measure of being. There is a 
similar collapse of our moral nature also, when no 
relationship subsists between one soul and another. 
Man feels instinctively that, though he may not be 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 11 

able to say how the world of matter exists, it existed 
before he came into life, and will exist after he and 
his race cease to live. It is only demented humanity 
which can find rest in a merely human interpretation 
of the Universe, and it is to the glory of mankind 
that there has been no systematic* school which 
has given it currency either in this Mitry or in 
Europe, though individual thinkers have used it 
as a powerful weapon to expose the vagaries of 
rival systems. 

The human mind being thus foiled in its wor c jiip 
of nature, and the deification of man as an all-suffi- 
cient explanation of being, seeks refuge in an exagge. 
ration of the third alternative, which makes out that 
the Supreme Spirit alone exists, and both nature a: id 
man are but its reflected manifestations, not separable 
from it in essence, but only seen to be separate by 
reason of our ignorance. This is the system which 
had its representatives in later Greek and Stoic 
and modern European, especially German, thought, and 
which with shades of differences has found its chief 
home in India. 

It has several advantages over the other systems. 
It is an adequate explanation of the infinity of matter 
we see around us. It is also an adequate inter- 
pretation of the infinity of force we see around us. 
It dispenses with the necessity of explaining the 
origin of things and the problem of creation , or 
evolution. It has an element of truth about it, in that 
the Supreme Being is immanent in all beings animate 
or inanimate. This is a much higher and truer 

12 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

conception of Supreme Existence than any which has 
found expression in many religious creeds of the 
world, which seek to separate God from nature and 
man by making Him out to be a being among beings, 
only more powerful and wise. 

There is, however, a notable distinction in this 
respect between the pantheistic teachings of European 
thinkers and their prototypes in this country. One of 
the most current mistakes is to regard the ' Adwaita/ 
Monistic system of thought as formulated in the 
gre^t Bhashya of Shankaracharya on the Vedanta 
Sutra, as the only characteristically Indian explanation 
of pantheism in this country. As a matter of fact, both 
before Shankaracharya's time and after his death, the 
modified Adwaita system of Ramanuja has played 
a great part in Indian philosophy, and to it may be 
traced the rise and progress of the Vaishnava Sects 
throughout India, which Sects have attained to a higher 
and truer conception of Theism than any of the other 
prevailing systems. In Shankaracharya's own system 
the existence of objective nature was not categorically 
denied. The position taken up was that neither exis- 
tence nor non-existence could be affirmed in regard 
to it in the same sense in which the human soul and 
the Supreme Spirit are known to exist. Besides Shan- 
karacharya freely admitted that Bramha, the Supreme 
existence, as soon as it conceived the idea of creation, 
became by reason of that thought 'Ishawara' creator, 
and all that was created had phenomenal existence. 
For all practical purposes this philosophy is strictly 
theistic in its beliefs. The European thinkers, on the 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 1& 

other hand, exaggerated the doctrine so as to negative 
all other existence. 

The European pantheists, while asserting that God 
was the only substance, the only reality, under the 
changing appearances of all finite things and persons, 
fall into the error of consubstantiating this reality with 
all material things and all individual minis, making it 
co-extensive with them, so that whatever is predicable 
of them is equally predicable of the reality. The 
absolute reality is thus at once Infinite and finite, the 
substance and the mode, undifferentiated and deter- 
mined in necessary forms. This error has been avoided 
in the Indian forms of pantheism as formulated 
by the great Acharyas. This complete effacement of 
individual things and persons, and the apprehension t)f 
separate appearances as being only an illusion of the 
imagination ends by reducing the absolute reality 
itself to a being of two dimensions only, extension 
and thought, the Sat and Chit of our philoso- 
phy. There is no room for the higher spiritual 
manifestation of Ananda, without which God is 
an empty substance, without any spiritual relations 
towards His creatures, these last being only illusory 
manifestations of His substance. Pantheism thus ends 
in becoming, like Materialism, or Egoism, an interpre- 
tation of what we see around us, which fails to satisfy 
our intellectual, moral and spiritual perceptions. We 
are conscious of our differences, we are conscious 
of our i freedom as well as dependence. We are 
conscious of our sense of right and wrong, and 
our responsibility for self-determined action. When 

14 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

the Infinite is thus allowed to swallow up all finite 
existence in time, space, and causation, the result is 
that there is no succession in time and space, and that 
there is nothing like cause and effect. Nothing happens 
but only exists eternally and necessarily. Nothing is 
originated or changed. There is no perfection or imper- 
fection, notLing good or evil in men and things. In short, 
the undifferentiated and impersonal unity which extreme 
pantheism teaches, is an interpretation of the uni- 
verse to which the conditions of our self-conscious 
being can never permanently be reconciled, and this 
unity must always remain a more or less curious 
speculation with little permanent hold on the head 
or heart of men, except in moments of poetic or mystic 
eostacy, in which both in Europe and India panthe- 
ism finally sublimates. 

Having thus examined all the possibilities of re- 
ducing the three postulates of existence to a single 
postulate, man's mind, in despair, has taken shelter in 
doubt or scepticism, not of the aggressive or militant 
kind, but in a more resigned form of it, in which it 
seeks to rest satisfied with the position that nothing 
certain can be grasped in connection w r ith these great 
problems. This is the latest development of modern 
European speculation, and is known as agnosticism, 
and we have now to see how far the human mind can 
resign itself to a conclusion which may be likened to 
a paralysis of thought as it withdraws^ itself, tor- 
toise-like, from all contact with such speculations. 
One thing strikes the student of this subject as a 
common characteristic of all such speculations. They 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 15 

all demand logical proof and are not satisfied with 
practical or moral certitude. It is just possible that 
practical or moral conviction is all that is needed 
and therefore attainable by the human mind in its 
search after the Absolute, and in that case the demand 
for logical proof may itself be an unreasonable 
demand. If practical certitude is attainable, it does 
not follow from our inability to furnish a logical 
demonstration by way of proof, that nothing can be 
positively and certainly known about these matters. 
The failure of the human mind to attain to a living 
knowledge of the Absolute has partly arisen from 
this confusion of certitude with demonstration. This 
disability is not confined to philosophy or religion 
only. There are large departments of knowledge 
where demonstrative proof is not possible, and we 
content ourselves with the next best alternative and 
substitute faith for knowledge and act on that faith 
and suffer for it. Our Earth, or even the Solar system, 
is not the universe, nor is our time Eternity Finite 
existence in time and space become intelligible only 
when they discover their background of the Infinite. 
Second causes linked together necessarily suggest a 
first cause which holds the links together. In our 
own personal consciousness, the fleeting perception 
and even thought of each moment cannot furnish 
the origin of true knowledge. That basis is widened 
by the more permanent results of self-consciousness, 
which memory holds together over a great length* of 
time in what we recognize as ' I/ with its past ex- 
periences. Further, connecting our individual thought 

16 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

with those of others, we come to rest our knowledge 
upon the collective thought of humanity. It would 
be intellectual suicide or madness if we followed any 
other principle. We can never demonstrate logically 
our reasons for the faith that we feel in the continuity 
of nature and the uniform operation of its laws. All 
science ultimately resolves itself into a product of 
our faith in the trustworthiness of the ever-changing 
universe. This sense of trustworthiness is the slow 
growth of ages, but it is none the less the basis of 
sc^ntific truths as we apprehend them. If this basis 
of faith is not repudiated by science, it has equally 
legitimate claims upon our acceptance in the phi- 
losophy of the Absolute. 

This conformity of the material universe with 
our faith in its trustworthiness establishes the link 
which joins man with the universe in which he lives 
and moves and has his being. We do not feel 
as if we were like fish taken out of water or 
like the soaring eagle made to walk over earth. 
This harmony between our thoughts and the opera- 
tions of nature is the highest natural revelation. 
This harmony springs not from man's consciousness 
only nor is it born of inert matter. It not only 
links us with nature, but it links us and nature alike 
with the Infinite existence whose purposes of wisdom 
and benevolence, beauty and power are thereby dis- 
closed to our eyes of faith and knowledge. Science, 
thus holds the torch of faith to the mystery of 
religion. If this torch were extinguished or set aside 
not only will Theism suffer, but with it science itself 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 17 

will cease to be scientific, for it also rests ultimately 
on faith in the harmony of the Universe, and the 
permanence of its laws and methods of work. 

The threefold postulates of existence are thus seen 
to be distinct and yet harmonized together. All at- 
tempts to assimilate and reduce them into one absolute 
existence fail, because they are bound to fail At the 
same time, they are not distinct in the sense of being 
disjointed parts of a mechanical whole. They are one 
and yet they are many. Nature and man each have 
definite relations of subordination to the great Infinite 
which rules over them and harmonizes them, and 
the discovery of these subordinate relations is the 
special domain of the philosophy of Theism. Even 
agnostic philosophers have admitted the existence 
of power and wisdom, beauty and benevolence, as 
manifested in the operations of nature. In the 
infancy of science, this power and purpose was 
cpnceived as not the work of a single unseen 
agency and will, but as the play of good ana bad 
deities Devtas, angels, spirits, and ghosts, the gods 
arid goddesses of mythology, of tribal and local 
origin, which had larger powers and more subtle 
influences over nature than man. This stage of 
thought naturally led to polytheism and to idolatry. 
It obtains still in this and other countries among 
people who cannot understand the universal harmony 
of nature's laws as science discloses it. Later on, 
science taught men to classify these agencies into 
good and bad angels, Devas and Daityas, Ahirman 
and Ahurmast. A hierarchy of gods bigger and 

18 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

smaller under the banners of the principles of good 
and evil, was thus evolved, and it is best seen in 
the early faith of the Hindus and Parsis and has 
left its stamp on the Mahomedan and Christian 
systems of faith. Finally, with the triumphs of 
scientific investigation, the idea dawned upon men's 
mind of the world of nature and man being pervaded 
by one power, wisdom and purpose, which superseded 
the old gods and goddesses and the division of good 
and evil principles. This was the work of Theism. 
This God was not as in the olden forms of Deism, 
apprehended as a being among other beings, a fashioner 
or mechanician setting the watch in motion from 
outside. But a God immanent in everything and 
over-ruling the Universe, a God who was not exhaust- 
ed by the limits of his work, but was, in the words 
of the Purushsukta, ' Bigger than the Infinite universe, 
and encircling as He did, the created world of matter 
and man, exceeded it on all sides/ It was the peculiar 
glory of the Upanishads to have discoursed of such a 
God. 'The winds blow from fear of Him, and the 
Sun rises and sets as He directs. Fire and Indra and 
even Death run on His errand.' In one of the Upani- 
shads there is a beautiful account >of the way in which 
the mythological gods of Fire, Indra, &c., tried 
their strength in contest with this Supreme Bramha, 
and were foiled in the attempt and submitted to do 
His bidding. He saw,i or rather thought, and the 
world and the inhabitants thereof were created. This 
is also the teaching of the Old Testament. Order 
means reason, conscious mind, or personal will. God's' 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 19 

immanence in nature is seen in the order and the 
purpose which animates nature. 

This account of the origin of things does not 
make the work of creation an event in time or 
history. It is as much a development of Infinite 
thought, as though it had no beginning In time. Both 
Geology and Astronomy, however, show To demon- 
stration that cosmos, as we now see it ordered and 
regulated, had a beginning, and a development or 
evolution from imperfect to perfect, and from simple 
to complex orders of beings. In this latter vie%, 
the important point for us to note is not the 
question of time but of causation. If causation is 
seen to be at work in infinite time and space, it 
is a sufficient explanation for the purposes of practical 

There can be no natural agents in the proper 
sense of the word. Matter is in its essence inert and 
the so-called agents are only signs by whiph the 
divine reality regulates the purposes of law and order, 
beauty and benevolence, power and wisdom. This 
divine activity is what is signified by the phrase, ' God 
immanent in nature/ These activities -are inter- 
pretable by man and become trustworthy, because they 
are His activities and not mere casual combinations 
and permutations of lawless and purposeless chance. 
Material agents are like the telegraph wire through 
which messages are sent across time and space, and 
deciphered by man, whether they are messages of 
science or of religion. An interpretable universe brings 
man face to face with God as the ever acting 

20 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

immanent cause of all natural changes, and the 
spirit which animates and regulates the world. 

Just as nature is supernatural in this view, man 
has also a super-human element in him. The dis- 
tinguishing feature in man is his self-conscious reason 
and his volition which is free to act or not to act 
within ceitain well-defined limits. Free volition can 
hardly be said to be present in brute creation. They 
are solely guided by their instincts and impulses, and 
are not in the strict sense of the word respon- 
sible for their actions. Man alone possesses a sort of 
delegated freedom to choose between right and wrong, 
between good and evil. He alone has the power of 
self-determination and of being a causal agent. These 
distinguishing features constitute his highest glory and 
his greatest responsibility. They furnish the bases of 
all law and government, morals and manners, social 
and family arrangements, literary and scientific culture, 
and finally of religion and worship. He is not a mere 
creature of necessity, not a mere diagonal result of 
opposite forces acting upon him, as is the rest of 
the world including even the brute creation. Man thus 
occupies a higher plane of being and the question 
arises how this higher existence is subordinated to the 
over-ruling Providence which regulates the universe in- 
cluding man as a physical being. In man's case his 
spiritual relations with this universal Soul are made 
manifest by the sense of conscience in him, which 
makes him feel that he is responsible for the proper 
exercise of his delegated freedom. He feels that 
the : spirit immanent in the universe "about him mani- 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 21 

fests His presence in him through this faculty of con- 
science which accuses him when he goes wrong, and 
helps and guides him when he is on the right path. 
The bitter remorse he feels when he demeans him- 
self, and the sense of satisfaction which rewards him 
when he does his duty, are the connecting* links between 
his soul and the spirit he realises as the Sv/ul ol his 
soul. It is this communion which opens to him the 
gates of another and higher world where love and 
justice reign supreme. Intelligent, self-originated voli- 
tion under obligation of duty and sense of personil 
responsibility, this is in the case of man the divine, that 
is the super-human and super-natural element in him- 
This ethical and personal conception of man's relation 
with the universal Soul is a higher revelation than what' 
nature discloses, and this is the realm where faith and 
knowledge join hand to hand, or rather knowledge be- 
comes faith which elevates man from mortal into im- 
rhortal existence. Though we cannot know all that we 
might wish to know about these mysteries, these "revela- 
tions of man and nature teach us that the deepest and 
truest thought man can have about the outside world 
is that it is the immediate manifestation of the divine 
or Infinite person in moral relations to imperfect persons 
who are undergoing intellectual and spiritual elevation 
in divine surroundings. At the same time God is not 
to be conceived as merely man made infinite, in his 
qualities and without his imperfections. This was the 
error of Buddhism which elevated the wise man above 
the old mythological Gods and even displaced the 
spirit from the universe. This is the form of idolatry 

22 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

against which all religions have raised their protests, 
and in none more emphatically than in the Aryan 
system of Faith. The Upanishads have said that ' He 
who thinketh that he knoweth God doth not know Him, 
while he who thinks that he doth not know Him 
knoweth Him, From Him the speech of man recoil- 
eth in J^jpair how to describe Him. The mind of 
man cannot grasp it. Only through faith, hope 
and love can H be approached.' 

This is the teaching of natural Theism. It has 
t? be supplemented by further revelations of God in 
history which form the basis of all historical religions 
and religious movements. Historical revelations of 
Theism must differ from one another according to the 
circumstances of the age and country in which they oc- 
curred. Their historical surroundings are, however, destined 
in course of time, to fade in importance as their work 
of national education is accomplished, and they con- 
verge together to supplement each other's work in the 
final goal which they are all intended to reach. Alone 
in all the countries of the world, India has had the 
privilege of witnessing this convergence of historical 
faiths actively at work without losing its own indivi- 
dual characteristics. With her revelation has not ceas- 
ed at any point of time. The stream has flowed 
and still continues to flow in the lives and teach- 
ing of every saint and prophet of this or of 
other lands. From the worship of the elements per- 
sonified, Indian Theism, or as I have elsewhere call- 
ed it the Bhagvata Dharma, developed into the worship 
of the power which rules over the elements. This 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 23 

power then became clothed with ethical and moral 
grandeur, banishing the old gods and elements into a 
lower order of beings and Devtas -Deities. The capa- 
cities of the human soul next attracted attention, and 
in the Upanishads the divine nature of the soul was first 
formulated and carried up even to the point of identity. 
Then came the Buddhists who strengthened tl:3 moral 
side of our nature, and substituted for the old animal 
sacrifices the sacrifice of the animal in man, as the 
highest form of worship and the only road to 
salvation. Next followed the aggressive domination of 
the Mahomedan faith which had its own purpose in 
enforcing the claims of strict Monotheism not only in 
intellectual apprehension but in practical conduct ; and 
now Christian influences are at work. The power o f 
organisation, active hatred of sin, and indignation 
against wrong-doing in place of resigned indifference, 
a correct sense of the dignity of man and woman, 
active philanthropy and a feeling of fraternity, free- 
dom of thought and action, these are Christian virtues 
which have to be incorporated into the national 
character, and this work is actively going on in all 
parts of the country. The Bhagvata Dharma has many 
points of contact and kinship with the Christian sys- 
tem of faith. The Supreme Spirit is apprehended in 
both as being the Ocean of life in which we live 
and move and have our being. The three persons of 
the Trinity have their more logical counterpart, in the 
One without a second, who is absolute existence 
'Sat'; the Logos, or the Word eternal is the 'Chit/ 
and the third person, the Holy Comforter is, ' Ananda ' 

24 ssays on Religious and Social Reform. 

joy and peace, who inspires joy and peace in all. 
The Hindu ideal of the soul becoming one on eman- 
cipation with the universal spirit is materialized in the 
Christian mystery of transubstantiation. Both systems 
recognize incarnation, the difference being of one or 
many. In both sacrifice has played an important 
part. w ith these elements of kinship there are es- 
sential differences which cannot be overlooked. The 
characteristics of Indian Theism, which have enabled 
it to maintain its identity, will cling to it through 
all times. They are first its non-historical character. 
It is associated with no particular saint or prophet 
though it has room for reverence to all saints and 
prophets. It is not bound down to any particular 
revelation but is open to the best influences of all 
revelations. With it, revelation is a perpetual stream 
which never ceases to flow. Above all, Indian 
Theism is built on the rock of the direct communion 
of the individual soul with the Soul of the Universe 
to wLich it is linked by the tie of faith, hope 
and love. Indian Theism does not limit its educa- 
tion of man to a single trial in this world. The 
modified law of ( Karma ' which distinguishes it 
from fatalism, which connects the past with the 
present and future, is nowhere better realized than 
in this country, though it is much exaggerated in 
some of its over-logical conclusions. The national mind 
has been cast in a spiritual and religious mould, 
which does not allow it to sink into the worship of 
this world and its riches and power as the highest 
object of desire, but always looks upon the hereafter 

Philosophy of Indian Theism. 26 

as its chief resting place. The universe is not merely 
His handiwork, but He is the Soul, Who fills the 
universe and moves it. Lastly, Indian theism teaches 
toleration to all, self-sacrifice, and the duty of love, 
not only of man to man but to all animated beings. 
It was not therefore, without reason that the Rev. Dr. 
Miller, in an eloquent address he gave a^ Madras, 
asked the Christians to bear in mind that God 
was at work in India long before any missionary, 
Catholic or Protestant, set his foot there, and that 
the Hindu system, amidst all its corruptions, contains 
elements of divine Truth. The Christian World, com- 
menting upon this, has observed that India will 
not give up all its moulds of thought at the bidding 
of British or Christian organisations, but it will dratf 
into itself the divine life which these organisations 

Gentlemen, I hope you will excuse this last 
digression from the professed purpose of the present 
address. I have tried to present before you on parallel 
lines the substance of Professor Dr. Fraser's lectures 
which represent the latest phase of European thought, 
and illustrated it by references to our own ancient 
works. The parallelism is very suggestive, and I hope 
it will prove an incentive to some of you to follow 
up these studies. If that result is achieved, I shall 
consider myself amply rewarded. 



ONE of the penalties of arrested civilization is 
that, while stopping further growth, the seeds 
of decay and death are sown in the paralyzed 
social organism. The ' stationary East ' is one of those 
popular fallacies which die a very hard death, though 
killed and exploded a hundred times. It is not pos- 
sible for a living being, be the unit an individual or 
a collection of individuals, to remain stationary at 
any stage of progress achieved by them for any 
considerable time without, in fact, undergoing the 
slow process of decay and degradation. The full 
importance of this fact is not at once realized, because 
the span of national life is not, like that of the indi- 
vidual man, easily encompassed within our ordinary 
vision ; and even in ordinary human life, many 
people imagine that they stand still when in fact 
they are sinking in health and vigour, and lapsing 
into decrepitude and dotage. Perhaps, no better 
illustration of this great truth can be cited than what 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 27 

is furnished by an historical survey of the changes 
which have taken place during centuries of arrested 
growth in the social usages regulating the institution 
of Marriage in the Aryan population of this country. 
Without such a survey of the past, it is not possible 
to understand intelligently the present> or correctly 
to forecast or guide the future. The theory ~f evolu- 
tion has, in this country, to be studied in its other 
aspect of what may conveniently be called devolu- 
tion. When decay and corruption set in, it is not 
the fittest and the strongest that survives in tb$ 
conflict of dead with living matter, but the healthy 
parts give way, and their place is taken up by all 
that is indicative of the fact that corruption has set 
in, and the vital force extinguished. 

The study of the morbid symptoms of a nation's 
decay is no doubt very irksome, but the pain must 
be endured, and the scruples set aside. The Gordian 
knot tied during centuries of devolution cannot be cut 
asunder by any spasmodic violence. The successive 
stages of slow decay must be closely watched and 
diagnosed, if we would work out the solution of the 
difficulty. Fortunately, the doom of death is not, as 
in the case of an individual, irrevocable as fate, in 
the case of a nation so large as the Aryan popula- 
ton of India, numbering one-sixth of the human race. 
The process of recovery may be slow, but if we 
stimulate the stifled seeds of health and growth, and 
lop off dead excrescences, decay may yet be arrested, 
and death successfully averted. It is this hope which 
must cheer all those who desire to see the dead 

28 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

bones in the valley heave again with the breath of 
resurrection, and the sleep of centuries disturbed by 
the penetrating rays of living light. 

It is proposed here to take such a survey of 
the growth and decay of the Aryan social usages 
regarding the Institution of Marriage in this country 
during ^'storic times, that is, the times of which we 
can trace the history in records, or institutions, or 
customs. Such a survey presents many stages of 
growth, as also of decay, but it is not proposed to 
dwell on them all here. It will be enough for the 
purpose of this introduction to note only two 
stages ; the one stage associated with all that is 
truly old and venerable, associated, moreover, with all 
that is best and noblest in our traditions, and 
the other stage when the civilization which pro- 
mised so well was arrested in its growth, and internal 
decay set in, and foreign invasions paralyzed all acti- 
vity, and brought in with them political subjection 
and social slavery. This distinction of two stages fits 
in with the orthodox view of looking at these mat- 
ters. The most orthodox interpreters of our Shastras 
admit that the present is separated from the past by a 
distinctly laid down land-mark. The Vedic age is sepa- 
rated from the Puranic age in which Aryan society 
now lives and moves, and has its being. The Shas- 
tris profess veneration for the past, but their allegiance 
is given not to the venerated Vedic past r but to the 
more modern transformations represented by the deve- 
lopments of the Puranic period, and owing to a false 
rule of exegesis, they try to distort the old texts so as 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 29 

to make them fit in with what is hopelessly irrecon- 
cileable with them. This desperate attempt must be 
abandoned if it is desired to look at the subject in its 
true historical aspect. Two propositions may safely 
be laid down in this connection : Firstly, that the 
Aryan society of the Vedic, or more properly speaking, 
the Grihya Sutra period presents the institution of 
marriage in a form which recognized female liberty 
and the dignity of womanhood in full, very slight 
traces of which are seen in the existing order of things 
except, fortunately, in the old Sanskrit ritual which h 
still recited, and the ceremonies which are still blindly 
performed ; and secondly, that owing to causes which 
it is not possible to trace, there was a revulsion of feel- 
ing, and the Vedic institutions were practically aban 
doned or ignored, and in their place usages grew up 
which circumscribed female liberty in various directions 
and seriously lowered the dignity of woman in the 
social and family arrangements. By clearly separating 
the texts relating to each period, the confusion of 
thought and ideas, which marks all orthodox discussion 
of these subjects, will be avoided, and the whole history 
presented in a way at once intelligible and suggestive. 

It may be noted that the stage of civilization 
represented by the texts of the Sutra period has 
itself a background of pre-historic times when the 
arrangements of the family life and marriage were 
admittedly archaic and barbarous. In the Mahabharata 
there are traces of this period when married life had 
no sanctity, and the tie of wife and husband was 
felt to be very loose. The well-known story of 

30 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

Dirghatama may be referred to as an illustration 
of these pre-historic times. The Yajur Veda texts, 
which described a woman as necessarily 'Ananshha/ 
disentitled to inherit, like those male heirs who were 
deformed or affected with an incurable malady, 
point to th>3 same time, and their influence was 
recog/.i^cd by some of the old Sutra writers, 
Baudhayana and Apastambha. The possession of a 
wife by a family of brothers as common property 
is a relic of the same period. The lower forms 
of Asura and Pishacha marriages are survivals of the 
same period. Slowly Aryan society grew out of this 
savagery, and one by one female heirs, first the wife, 
then the daughter, afterwards the mother and sister, 
began to be recognized as heirs to a separated Aryan 
householder. Monogamy became the rule of life, and 
rose in national estimation, as the story of Rama and 
Sita so nobly illustrates. Woman's freedom and 
dignity were vindicated, and, in the Kshatria caste 
especially, liberty to choose her husband in the 
form of Swayamvara, marriage by free choice, so 
well illustrated in the stories of Sita, Damayanti, 
Rukmini and Draupadi, was allowed as a 
matter of course. Among the Brahmins, women 
given up to study and contemplation, refrained from 
marriage altogether, and lost none of their import- 
ance by this act of self-abnegation. Marriage took 
place in all castes at a comparatively .mature age, 
and the remarriage of widows was not looked down 
upon as disreputable, seeing that Damayanti was 
permitted by her father to make a feint of it 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 31 

to find out her long-lost husband, and that Krishna's 
son married a widow of his enemy Shambara, 
and Arjuna married Ulupi. This was the classical age 
of Indian history, when the nation throve in all lines 
of activity. Later on some cause or another led to 
a change, and Swayamvara fell into disuse, single life 
became unfashionable, late marriages and remarriages 
became disreputable, women's rights as heirs were also 
circumscribed in favour of distant male heirs, mono- 
gamy lost its strictness so far as males were concerned, the 
Bramha form of marriage by gift was recognized ^is 
the best form, and women were denounced as 
being on a level with the Shudras in respect of 
Vedic learning and performance of Vedic rites, and 
they were condemned to life-long pupilage, first to, 
the father, and afterwards to the husband, and lastly, to 
the son. The Shastris explain the revulsion of feeling 
by ascribing it to be the result of the change of Yuga, 
that is, the setting in of the Kali Yuga. The explana- 
tion is not satisfactory or complete, since tl~ . same 
texts, which ushered in these restrictions on female 
rights, were equally explicit in regard to many other 
customs, such as long continued Bramhacharya on the 
part of men, and entering the Monastic order. In 
these matters, the restrictions did not form a bar 
to the continuance of the old practices as honoured 
institutions. The cause of this revulsion of feeling 
was really the reflex action of the rise of Buddhism 
with its horror of female society, joined with {he 
confusion caused by invasions of barbarous hordes, 
such as, the Shakas, Hunas and Jats, from outside, and 

32 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the rise of non-Aryan tribes to power in the country, 
which deluged the land with bloodshed, and extin- 
guished the spirit of chivalry, learning and indepen- 
dence, and reduced the nation to the subjection of 
people with a lower type ,oi civilization about the 
commencement of the Christian era. This destructive 
work , was completed by the invasion of the 
Mahomedans, who had a distinctly lower ideal of 
family life and respect for the female sex. The 
revulsion in feeling was not confined to the marriage 
institutions only. It equally affected the law of 
inheritance by discouraging partition, and encouraging 
living in union under the authority and protection 
of the eldest living male. It similarly affected 
the notion of individual property in land, and 
substituted in its place communal or tribal ownership 
of the soil, as evidenced by the tenure of land 
in the North-Western Provinces and the Punjab. The 
intermixture of castes was discouraged, and the 
sub-divHons became more numerous and rigorous 
than ever. Foreign intercourse by sea and land was 
similarly eschewed and discredited. The domination 
of the priesthood became more pronounced than ever, 
and led to the foundation of the numerous sects 
and heresies. Whatever may have been the cause of 
this change of front all along the line, the fact is 
indisputable, and cannot be denied. 

Having thus presented the pre-historic, the classical 
or Vedic, and the Puranic stages in our vie\^, it will 
be now convenient to refer more in detail to the 
Institution of Marriage, and trace its downward course 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 3& 

step by step. The following conclusions may safely 
be laid down on this point : 

In the Grihya Sutras no definite age limit for 
the marriage of females is laid down. The age limit 
of males is laid down by inference, seeing that the 
studentship commences at eight years fgr Brahmins, 
and at a later age for other castes, and the c tudy 
of the three Vedas, of two or of one Veda is 
prescribed for thirty-six, twenty-four or twelve 
years in the preceptor's house, as a preliminary 
to the Brahmin student's entering upon the life of a 
Grihi, married householder, with his preceptor's 

While no definite age limit has been laid down 
for females, the texts indicate clearly enough what 4 
they mean by prescribing certain qualifications as neces- 
sary in the case of females. The Hiranya Keshi 
Grihya Sutra lays down that the female should 
be' 'Nagnika ' defined in Sanskara Ratna Mala as 
' Maithunarha/ fit for cohabitation with her huc^nd, 
and Brahmacharini, similarly defined to be one who 
has not associated with a male person. This 
requisite of Brahmacharini, is a qualification prescribed 
in all the Sutras of the different Vedas and 

It might be said that the interpretation put 
upon 'Nagnika' and ( Brahmacharini ' is too far- 
fetched, and cannot be accepted as fairly representing 
the general sense of the Sutras. Such a contentiort 
will not be urged by any one who reads the texts 
in full for himself. The texts in all the Sutras 


34 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

require that for three days at least some texts 
prescribe twelve days, others a year the husband and 
wife should be 'Wratastha,' abstemious, that is, should 
observe certain forms of self-restraint, and among 
these restrictions are (i), that they should abstain 
from the use of salted food, (2), they should sleep 
on " d*e ground, and (3) that they should observe 
the ' Bramhachari Wrata' also for the prescribed 
period. There could thus be no mistake about the 
sense of the words, even if the texts, which permit 
a girl to look out for a husband, only when she 
desires to be joined in marriage, be left out of 

No doubt, however, is left on this point by 
the ceremony of the fourth night which used to be 
performed in former times after the ' Wrata ' of the 
three nights was over. This ceremony is still kept 
up in name in the rituals of all the Sutras, except the 
Ashwalayana, where only the three nights' Wrata 
is mentioned. In the other Sutras the fourth night's 
ceremony is intended to sanctify the ground, that 
is the female body, so as to make it lit for 
association for purposes of cohabitation, and the 
ritual prescribes the union, by actual contact of the 
bodies and of the members thereof, of both husband 
and wife. Even the texts, which refer to a later 
period, recognized the completion of the three 
nights' Wrata and the union of bodies on the fourth 
night as the final step which made marriage complete, 
so as to make the couple ' Eka Rishi/ that is, to 
incorporate the woman with the man's Gotra gens. 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 35 

This incorporation entitled her to receive and 
offer the Pinda after death and observe Sutaka, 
mourning. Even the Ashwalayana, as interpreted by 
the Prayoga Parijata, has stated the efficacy of the 
Wrata of three nights, c., to be, that it took 
away the girl out of her father's Gotra, and 
incorporated her in her husband's Gotra. This 
rite is not now performed at the marriage time, 
but part of it is performed after the girl attains 
age at the time of the Garbhadhana consummation 
of marriage, and the omission to perform the rite 
at the proper time is atoned for by a Prayaschitta, 
penance. The fourth night's ceremony was understood 
to join the husband and wife in actual bodily 
cohabitation, and the Bramhachari Wrata then ceased. 
This fact can leave no doubt as to the correctness 
of the interpretation put upon Nagnika and Bramha- 
charini by the commentator, and it shows that the 
marriageable age was fixed at a mature period both 
for the husband and the wife. 

This circumstance also accounts for the fact 
that a great many of the Smriti texts favour the re- 
marriage of Akshatayoni girls, widowed in their child- 
hood, before the consummation of marriage, even 
when these texts do not permit it, more generally, in 
the way Parashara, Manu, Narada, &c., authorised 
such remarriage in the case of all women suffering 
from five forms of distress. 

There is thus a recognized distinction between 
the status of a wife married with the fourth night's 
ceremony, which was most in vogue in those days, 

36 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

and a girl given in marriage who had not known 
her husband. There was no occasion for any such 
distinction in old times. With the restrictions of age 
limit, this distinction had to be made as a concession 
to popular feeling, 

The marriage ritual, it may also be noted, 
has no place in it for the girl's father after the 
Kanyadana ceremony, giving away the girl in gift. 
The subsequent rite is entirely an affair of the husband 
and wife. The mutual promises and assurances of 
love and protection and obedience presuppose a 
much greater capacity in both than can be attributed 
to them in their childhood. The marriage rite is no 
doubt a sacrament, but it is a sacrament which pre- 
supposes the age of discretion on both sides. As 
now performed, it loses all its significance, because 
neither party understands what is said or done. 

The circumstance that Swayamwara was much 
in vogue in royal families, and among Kshatriyas 
generally, is an evidence of the same fact, namely, 
that marriage was contracted after girls had arrived 
at age and years of discretion, and that it was not 
a matter in which they were allowed no choice. 
Even after the Smriti texts greatly restricted female 
liberty, they have expressly reserved to the girl the 
power of marrying oneself after waiting for three 
years for the father's choice. 

To the same effect is the evidence of the 
Puranic legends, which expressly refer to the cases of 
girls who refused to abide by the choice of their 
fathers. The well-known story of Sawitri is a proof 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 37 

of this. Sawitri, when she had attained to the 
marriageable age, was told by her father to make 
a choice for herself. She chose Satyawan, and 
when Narada said that Satyawan would die within 
a year, and in consequence her father asked Sawitri 
to forego her choice, she said ' No/ . and Nanida 
supported her. This is the version given i:: the 
Mahabharata. The stories of Rukmini and Subhadra 
are similarly instructive. The choice of the daughters 
of Kashi Raja and of Mandodari in the Devi 
Bhagawata legend tends to confirm this position 
In some of these cases the girls chose to remain 
unmarried, and their fathers did not think they were 
bound to constrain their choice. The several points 
noticed above can leave little doubt upon the* 
question at issue, and they show beyond doubt that 
marriages took place after years of discretion, and 
were matters more of choice than of parental 

To come next to the Smriti texts, there L ^o 
doubt, that when these texts were written, there 
was a revulsion of feeling, and it was generally 
regarded as a matter of necessity that no girl should 
remain unmarried, if the parent could help it, after 
twelve or before puberty, In their inability to fix 
the relative locality, order or date of the Smritis, 
and under the stress of a false theory of exegesis, 
the Shastris lump the Smritis together, and attempt 
the hopeless task of reconciling opposite texts by 
inventing fictions. No fair view of the subject can 
be secured by mere violent interpretation. The better 

o8 JZssays on Religions and Social Reform. 

plan appears to be to take the texts as they are, 
and arrange them in intelligent order, and ascertain 
on which side the balance of authority rests. The 
following observations have been written with this 
view and may prove useful. 

In regard to the marriageable age of males, there 
is hJt the same diversity of view as in regard to 
the age of females. Marriage is not compulsory for 
males. If a man desires to marry, the lowest 
permissible age according to the Smritis is sixteen, 
and the highest is thirty, as the following texts will 
show clearly : 

Brihaspati : A man thirty years old should 
marry a girl of ten years. In another place the 
text reads that a man of thirty should marry a girl 
of sixteen- 

Manu and Yama : A man at the age of 
thirty should marry a ( Kanya/ 

Dewala : A man at the age of eighteen should 
iti **"/ in due form a girl of seven, who is then 
called 'Gaud.' 

Ashwalayana : A ' Dwija ' twice-born of twenty- 
five should marry a ' Kanya ' of eight years. A man 
of less than thirty should marry a ' Rohini ' of nine 
years. She becomes ' Gandhari ' after ten, and he 
who wishes long life should marry such a girl before 
she attains her menses. 

Wyasa: A Dwija of twenty-six ,years, who 
has fulfilled all observances and finished his studies, 
should, with his preceptor's permission, if he desires to 
be a householder, marry a faultless and grown-up girl. 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 39 

Gautama : A householder should marry an un- 
married grown-up girl of less age than himself. Wise 
men have said that after fifty a man should not 
marry in Kali Yuga. 

Wriddha-Qautama : A man should study in his 
' Balya,' early age, and marry in the. ' Yauwana/ 
period of youth, after finishing his i Brahmacharya.' 

Budha: After finishing the study of the Vedas 
and the service of his preceptor, and after having 
completely observed all ' Wratas/ a man should 
marry a girl of his own caste. 

Ashwalayana : After finishing four Vedas, or 
three, or two, or one, and satisfying his preceptor, a 
man should, after completing one-fourth of his life's 
period, twenty-five years, become 'Grihi,' householder,, 
for the second portion of twenty-five years of his 
life., and then retire into the forest. 

Manu : (a) A man thirty years old should, 
after finishing the study of the Vedas, or two Vedas ; 
or one, or after a fair master)- thereof and hr^'nq 
remained a ' Bralnnachari ' all the while, become a 
' Grihastha/ householder. 

() A man should in the first quarter 
of his life stay with his preceptor. In the second 
quarter of his life, by marrying a wife he should stay 
in his house as a householder. 

Yajnawalkya: A male should be chosen who is 
1 Shrotriya ' well-endowed, one who is l Yuwa/ young, 
intelligent, and beloved by men. 

Shatatapa : A man should be Yuwa who desires 

40 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

Daksha : A man who has finished his study of 
the Vedas should marry a well-endowed girl. Before 
sixteen a man is not qualified for marriage. After he 
has finished his study of the Vedas and completed 
his Brahmachari Wrata he should bathe and become 
Grihi, a householder. 

Manu : The ' Keshanta/ removal of hair, ceremony 
may be performed in the case of a Brahmin at 
sixteen, in the case of a Kshatriya at twenty-two, 
and in the case of a Waishya at twenty-five. After 
bathing he becomes Snataka, anointed and fit for 

These texts leave no doubt that the majority of 
the Smritis favour the age after twenty-five in the 
case of males. Only one text fixes the age at eighteen 
and another at sixteen. The maximum limit is also 
fixed at fifty. The text of Dewala about eighteen is 
counterbalanced by his own text which fixed the age 
at twenty-five. Daksha specifically lays down a 
xn^'mum limit of sixteen, before which no man may 
legally marry. Manu's text about sixteen relates to 
Keshanta ceremony, and is balanced by his own other 
text which fixes thirty as the limit of age. The 
medical works also favour the higher ages. Sushruta 
and Wagbhata fixed twenty-one and twelve as the 
marriageable ages of boys and girls respectively, and 
twenty-five and sixteen as the age for the consum- 
mation of marriage by cohabitation. These medical 
works slate : ' Children born of parents who are 
respectively less than tw r enty-five and sixteen years 
old are either still-born, or if born alive, are 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 41 

weaklings.' All these authorities are thus clearly in 
favour of late, as against child marriages. Nobody 
now proposes to wait till twenty-five, though that 
would not be unreasonable, but surely a proposal to 
raise the minimum age to eighteen or twenty for 
males is not an unreasonable concession to the 
weakness of the Kali Yuga. 

To proceed next to the consideration of the age 
for females. It will be noted that the Sutras laid 
down no minimum or maximum age limit, but left 
marriages optional. Those who desired to marry 
might do so at a time of life signified by the use of 
the words Kanya, Kumari, Yinvati, Kanta, Nagnika, and 
Brahmacharini, which in those days were sufficiently 
indicative of their being grown-up girls. The way yi 
which the Smriti writers proceeded to restrict this 
freedom was, firstly, by prohibiting the choice of single 
or unmarried life to females, secondly, by making it 
compulsory on fathers or guardians to see their 
daughters married before puberty at the rist of 
damnation, and thirdly, by inventing new texts limiting 
the age significance of the words Kanya, Kumari 
Nagnika, &c., used by the Sutra writers. It is a very 
interesting study to mark the successive stages of this 
gradual process of restriction and degradation. Not- 
withstanding this manipulation, it will be seen that 
the majority of the texts favour the age of twelve 
or the age of puberty as the marriageable age for girls. 
As might be expected, the Smriti texts, which bear 
the same names as some of the older Sutras, are 
naturally the most in accord with the ideas of the 

42 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

Sutra period. Baudhayana, for instance, prescribes 
that a girl must be both a Nagnika and a 
Bramhacharini, words obviously used in the sense of 
the Sutras, that is, as a girl fit for sexual connection, but 
who has had no such intercourse before. Ashwalayana, 
Shankhalikhita f and Paithinasi also use the same words 
Naguika and Kanya, but obviously use the words in 
a sense different from the Sutras. Katyayana similarly 
uses the word Kumari, In the same way Shaunaka 
in his Karika keeps up the memory of the traditions 
qf the three nights' observance of Wrata to be 
followed on the fourth night by actual consummation. 
Owing to the change of habits the three nights' 
Wrata was enlarged to twelve days or a year's period 
for the final consummation of intercourse. Satyawrata, 
another writer of the same early period, also refers 
to the three nights' observances, and the fourth nighCs 
union as completing the marriage. Even when less 
liberal notions were evidently in the ascendant, 
Ban^hayana clearly permits the girl to wait for three 
years after she attains her menses, and if till then 
her father did riot give her in marriage, she was at 
liberty to contract a lawful marriage herself. Wasishtha 
belongs to the same early period. According to him, 
the girl eligible for marriage is one who is Asprishta- 
Maithuna, that is, has not had sexual intercourse, in 
other words, is Brahmacharini in the old Sutra 

The first decisive step in the downward course 
of restriction and constraint was taken, when the 
maximum age for marriage was brought down to the 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 43 

period before a girl attained her menses, and the 
words Kanya, Kumari, Nagnika, and others were 
defined accordingly. And a new word of opprobrium, 
Wrishali, was invented for the girl who remained 
unmarried after she attained menstruation. The 
authorities on this point are numerous, and belong 
decidedly to a later period, contemporary with the 
compilation of the 'Amarkosha' lexicon, which defines 
Nagnika by its equivalent of N'tgatartawa, one who 
has not attained her menses. The omission of the 
word Brahmacharini is easily explained, for ther^ 
was no occasion for the use of that text when the 
age was brought down. The descent from Nagnika, 
who was lit for sexual intercourse, to Nagatartawa, 
one who had not attained her menses, is a clearly 
marked one, and constitutes the first link in the 
retrograde chain. Yama, Ashwalayana, Baudhayana, 
Dewala, Paithinasi, Gautama, Shankhalikhita, Brihaspati, 
Wasishtha, and Marichi, all prescribed the gift of a 
Nagnika girl as the most eligible form of marriage 
called Brahma-wiwaha, and the following Smritib, 
Brihaspati, Parashara, Shatdtapa, Wyasa, Atri, Marichi, 
Kashyapa, Shatyayani, Dewala, Yajnawalkya, Harita, 
Narada, Gautama, Sanwarta, Angira, Paithinasi, Yama, 
and Vishnu, expressly contain texts, laying down that 
a girl who attains her menses, while living in her 
father's house unmarried, becomes a Wrishali, and her 
father, brother, &c., incur the guilt of Bhrunahatya, 
child murder, or, more vaguely, ' go to hell, ' and rfer 
husband is a Wrishalipati, unfit to be associated with 
or invited for Shradha, anniversary of the dead. 

44 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

Paithinasi assigns another reason why a girl shoul 
be given before she attains her menses. That reason 
is, 'A girl should be married before her breasts are 
developed/ Angira and Kashyapa also require that 
a girl whose breasts are not developed, or who has 
not attained her menses, should be given in marriage. 
The:- texts, it will be seen, say nothing about the 
girl incurring any guilt. On the contrary, Baudhayana 
permits her to give herself in marriage after waiting 
for her father doing so for three years, and according 
to the Smriti writers, namely, Wyasa, Atri, Dewala, 
Wriddha-Atri, Marichi, Laugakshi, Shaunaka, Ashwa- 
layana, Apastamba, and Wriddha-Parashara, even when 
a girl becomes impure in the course of the perform- 
ance of marriage rites, these rites are only delayed 
by three days of impurity, at the end of which she 
is to bathe and after a small penance she is eligible 
for marriage, as if she had not attained her menses. 
But in the further development of this same retro- 
grade tendency, it was laid down that /she herself 
\icurred guilt, and that she should be abandoned by 
her father, and her face should not be seen according 
to Gautama and Markandeya. According to Brihaspati 
and Atri the marriage of a girl, after she has attained 
her menses, destroyed the welfare of the giver's 
ancestors. The word 'Wrishali' was apparently, at 
first, applied to a barren woman or a woman who gave 
birth to still-born children. As shown above, the 
word was obviously at this time intended to embrace 
t he unmarried girl who had attained menses, und as 
such the denunciations against connection with a 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 45 

Wrishali of the old sort, contained in Yama, Harita, 
Ushanas, Manu, Wasishtha, Shaunaka, and Gautama, 
were made applicable to marriages with girls after 
they had attained menses. The next step in order 
of further restriction was taken by fixing the time of 
the first appearance of menses at the age of twelve. 
Yama, Parashara, and Brihaspati laid down that girls 
attain their menses when they have reached the 
twelfth year, and they condemn the father who 
neglected his duty in getting his girl married before 
that period. Manu and Yama accepted the limit of 
twelve years as a suitable age limit for the bride of 
a full grown-up man of thirty, and Sanwarta fixed 
upon twelve years as the age when a girl became 
a Wrishali. This was thus the next step and must 
have been later in time than the age of Amara- 
kosha, noted above. 

In keeping with this view, or in exaggeration of 
it, a Nagnika was defined in the Puranas to be a girl 
who did not feel the desire of concealing her IHbs 
in a male's presence, or was still playing like a chila 
in the dust, and did not know what was proper and 
improper. But a time came soon after, when the limit 
of twelve was thought to be too liberal by the text 
writers, and the words Nagnika, Kanya, and Kumari 
were subjected to further manipulation. The Sutras 
prescribed the marriage of a ' Kumari/ virgin, and a 
' Kanya, ' daughter, among whose qualifications they 
had stated that they should be Nagnika and 
Brahmacharini. In the Sutras the words Kanya and 
Kumari, were never intended to signify any particular 

46 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

age, or state of bodily development, any more than 
' Bharya/ wife, or ' Stri/ woman, used in Britiaspati 
and Apastamba. They are general words, and used 
as such in Manu, Ashwalayana, Shaunaka, and 
Baudhayana, in various places, where girls of twelve 
and after maturity are called Kanya, as also in 
Brihaspati, Yama, Parashara, and Vishnu, where a 
father is condemned to the sin of child-murder who 
leaves his Kanya unmarried after she attains menses. 
When, however, a desire began to be felt to bring 
'Jown the age from twelve, the device of defining; 
Kanya, Kumari and Nagnika, as a girl who had 
reached a particular age, was adopted and turned 
to account. Thus Kashyapa styled a girl of seven 
Gauri, and a girl of ten was called Kanya, and a girl 
after ten was called Rajaswala. Another reading 
of this same text states that a girl after ten becomes 
a Kumari. A third reading states that at the age 
of twelve she becomes Rajaswala. Sanwarta styled a 
FT I of eight years Gauri, of nine years Nagnika, and 
of ten Kanya, and of twelve Wrishali, which last 
thus became synonymous with Rajaswala. Yama, 
Gautama, Garga, and Parashara called the girl of eight 
Gauri, of nine Rohini, of ten Kanya, and after ten 
she . became Rajaswala. By this device of merely 
calling a girl Rajaswala after ten, these writers 
attempted to cancel the definition adopted by previous 
texts noted above of fixing the age of twelve as 
the age of menstruation. Ashwalayana and Dewala 
also adopted the nomenclature Gauri, Rohini and 
Kanya, as the names of girls in their eighth, ninth 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 47 

and tenth year, and they called the girl after ten 
Gandhari. Angira called the girl before she attained 
menses Nari, a girl who had attained menses was 
called Rohini, and one who had developed breasts was 
called Kanyaka. The confusion seen in these texts, 
and their open contradiction of each other and of 
the large number of the texts quoted before, fixing 
the age of marriage by the limit of monthly courses, or 
twelve years, condemns them as being later tamperings 
with old texts or later additions. By this ignoble 
device the marriageable age of girls was cut dowr; 
by two years and reduced from twelve to ten ; for, 
after ten a girl was supposed to be Rajaswala, against 
all the facts or experience, and the authority of texts 
which fixed the age at twelve. 

As if the limit of ten was not low enough, and 
to complete the degradation, it was later on suggested 
that as girls had not, like boys, any ' Upanayana,' 
initiation ceremony to go through, the marriage sacrament 
should be taken in tVo place of the Upanayana 
ceremony of boys, and therefore, the texts laying 
down the age for Upanayana were by analogy made 
applicable to girls for their marriage. Angira and 
Sanwarta laid it down that wise men have commended 
the age of eight as a fit age for a girl's marriage. 
But as Manu's authority was required to support the 
fraud, a text of Manu was made to order, laying it 
down that eight years from birth or conception wa s 
the best time for a boy's Upanayana or a girfs 
i Warana ' acceptance of a husband. The w r ord Warana 
in the text is not exactly equivalent to c Wiwaha' 

48 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

marriage, used in the Angira's text, but it supports the 
confusion of ideas on which the fraud was based. 
Ashwalayana and Dewala, as also Marichi and 
Brihaspati, were laid under contribution as assigning 
particular blessings or particular portions of heaven to 
the man who married or who gave his daughter in 
marriage when she was a Gauri, a Rohini or a 
Kanya. In this indirect way a few solitary and 
apparently fraudulent additions have been made to 
do duty, and the eligible marriage age was reduced 
to what it now obtains in a large number of cases. 

That some of these texts have been manipulated 
can hardly admit of doubt ; for instance, the texts 
of Manu, Narada and Yama which allowed a girl 
'to remain unmarried even till death rather than be 
wedded to a man who is of a bad character/ has 
been made in some books to read that such a girl 
should on all accounts be given to a man, howsoever 
bad he might be, and her forcible abduction is not at 
all a sin. In the Kashyapa text a similar manipulation 
of ten for twelve years is proved by the readings in 
different still extant books. 

Taking a connected view of the whole subject, 
it will be seen that the authorities for the marriage of 
girls before eight years are obviously later additions 
and are limited to two obscure Smritis, of which 
full texts have not been preserved, and the Manu text 
quoted is evidently not to the point. The Authorities 
who support the marriage at ten are similarly of no 
great weight, being based on a device by which the 
word Kanya has been distorted from its correct sense 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 49 

to mean a girl of ten years. These authorities are 
eight in number. The largest preponderance of 
authorities is for twelve years as the limit. Properly 
speaking, these authorities lay down the limit at the 
period when a girl attains one of the signs of puberty 
menstruation. But, even taking them as .they have 
been since interpreted, the limit of twelve is supported' 
by nearly thirty text-writers of repute, and as such 
it may be taken as representing the correct sense ot 
the Smriti writers generally. It is also supported by 
the orthodox works on Medicine. Marriage at the 
twelfth year and consummation at the sixteenth appear 
thus to be the normal and authoritative ages for girls. 

Here these observations must be brought to a 
close. Leaving the old Sutra period as too remote 
to influence the present condition of our population, 
no such objection can be urged to the limits laid 
down above, that is, twelve for girls' and eighteen or 
twenty for boys' marriages, and respectively, sixteen 
and twenty-five for consummation, as supported by 
the vast majority of the really authoritative texts. 
Those who seek reform in this matter ao not desire 
to turn marriage into an affair of mutual love. They 
do not want to thrust aside the parental authority, 
or to diminish the sense of responsibility now felt 
They advocate a return from modern corruptions to 
the real sense of the old Smriti texts, and their 
request is, therefore, fairly entitled to consideration. 

It is hoped that, after the present reaction 
subsides, men will come to see that, in clinging to 
the existing order of things, they are really setting 

50 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

at naught the traditions of their own best days and 
the injunctions of their own Shastras, not to speak 
of all considerations of duty and expediency, and 
that, in calling for a change on the old lines, the 
reformers seek, not to revolutionise, but to lop off 
the diseased over-growth and excrescences, and to 
restore vitality and energy to the social organism. 

This introduction to Mr. Dayaram Gidumal's 
book, written in 1887, ends here. Since then the 
hope expressed towards the end has been, to a large 
extent, realised. In the Rajputana Agency, the 
Walterkrita Hitakarini Subha, started about this time, 
has been carrying on, under the authority of the 
Rajput Rulers themselves, the work of gradually 
raising the age limit of marriage in the case of girls 
among the Rajputs, Charans and other castes. The 
age limit fixed upon is fourteen years, and from the 
reports of the last twelve years it is gratifying to 
note that the rules are being observed throughout 
these large territories. The example of Rajputana is 
being followed in Malwa and other parts of India. 

In the South the Mysore Government passed in 
1894, two Regulations for the prevention of early and 
old ill-assorted marriages. Two similar Bills were 
brought into the Legislative Council of the Madras 
'Government, which proposed higher limits, and they 
were received favourably by the public. The 
Government of India, however, did not sanction 
the introduction of these Bills, apparently on the 
ground that public opinion was not yet sufficiently 
advanced to justify Government action. On the 

The Age of Hindu Marriage. 51 

Malabar Coast, a special Marriage Law has, however, 
found favour with the authorities, the effect of which 
cannot fail to produce healthy change in course of 
time. In the Baroda State, a measure for the preven- 
tion of infant marriages was thought of and a Draft 
Bill prepared, but owing to unforeseen difficulties the 
measure has been for the present laid aside. Froin 
the reports of the Indian Social Conference and of the 
various Social Reform Associations established in 
different provinces, it is clear that the marriageable ages 
of both girls and boys are being slowly raised, and in 
most of the caste-associations, the age of twelve for 
girls is being recognized as both desirable and 
obligatory. In the Bramha Samaja and the Arya 
Samaja this age has been still further raised to 
fourteen, in the one case by law and in the other by 
socjal opinion. 

This advance made in the growth of public 
opinion will not fail before long to influence the 
action of Government, and it will be thus seen that 
the tendency towards lowering the age, which marked 
Puranic India, has been vigorously checked, and the 
tide has turned towards the revival of the most 
ancient salutary custom. In other respects, as will 
appear from subsequent chapters in tin's work, the 
condition of the widows is being ameliorated and 
the rights of female heirs are being more gene- 
rally recognized on the lines laid down in the 
Vedic and the Epic times of our past history. 
There is then every reason to hope that in this 
respect the efforts of the reformers have not al- 

52 jEssays on Religious and Social Reform. 

together proved fruitless, and that a better time is 
dawning upon our horizon, when with the advance of 
female education and a better appreciation of the 
necessity of female emancipation, this great blot 
which has disfigured the social condition of India for 
the past thousand years or more, will be removed, 
and this country restored to the purity and elevation 
of its ancient grandeur. 



This Paper was written about i8jo, ivhen the Widow 
Re-marriage Controversy was at its height on this side of 
India. <A great Council was held to discuss the question, 
tinder the presidency of His Holiness the Shankaracharya 
of these parts, at Poona. 

Five learned Shastris were selected as JPunch on the 
orthodoK side and five others were selected on the Reform 
side. After nine days' 1 discussion seven Shastris gave their 
opinions against and three in favonr of the validity of 
re-marriage among the higher Castes. The late 

lamented Mr. Vishnu Shastri Pandit was the leader of 
the Reform party, and he and Jiis friends have continued 
the celebrations of more re-marriages till now. About a 
hundred such marriages have taken place on this side 
of India, including the Presidency of Bombay, Central 
Provinces and the Berars. The popular excitement at the 
time was great, and one of the younger reformers, who 
had been defamed by a Shastri on the other side, brought 
a criminal complaint in the Court of Dr. A. O. l^raser, 
who was then the Railway Magistrate, at Poona. Dr. 
Fraser, in delivering the judgment, discussed the question^ 
and it was deemed desirable to publish in an English Jorm 
the principal Vedic and Pnranic authorities, on which the 
JReformers relied in support of the validity of such 
marriages. This paper was published at the time and- it 
exhaustively treats the whole subject. With this intro- 
duction the remarks that follow will be intelligible. Editor. 

PR. FRASER, in his learned judgment in the 
great Poona Defamation Case, has very clearly* 
stated one of the grounds on which the 
advocates of re-marriage found their argument, that 

54 Essays on Religious and Sociat, Reform. 

re-marriage is permitted to the high-caste Hindu widow 
in this present age. As the learned Judge has so 
forcibly put it, in seeking this reform, the advocates 
are only endeavouring to restore the purer institutions 
of old times. People who are ; however, not conversant 
with the merits of the question, may be misled by 
the special prominence given to one minor argument 
in the judgment, namely, that the central period of the 
Kali age, which is the Yuga proper Kali-yuga not yet 
come, and to which alone the prohibitions against 
remarriage and other institutions can apply, has not 
yet commenced, and in fact, it will commence only 
after some thirty-one thousand years from this date. 
This special mention of it in the judgment may 
mislead people into thinking that the advocates 
have after all a very narrow basis to build their 
great argument upon, and it is deemed necessary 
that this false impression should be removed. So 
far from this argument being the only one the 
advocates ground their movement upon, the truth 
is that it occupied only a very secondary place 
in the late discussions at Poona. Dr. Eraser's atten- 
tion was specially directed to it by reason of the 
fact that one of the accused, Vyankata Shastri, was the 
first to discover this line of argument, and he commu- 
nicated it to the late lamented Vishnu Shastri Pandit, 
the great apostle of this movement on our side of 
India, who made use of it in the late discussion at 
Poona, and there it stood its ground, for the orthodox 
disputants gave no answer to it. In itself, it is, 
however, a very lame argument, for it has no force 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage, 55 

if the antagonist denies the validity of re-marriage 
even in the previous ages. This was the position 
taken up in the late discussions, although as it is a 
very unsafe one, the Pancha on the orthodox side in 
their joint decision wisely confined themselves to * 
statement, ' that by reason of the prohibitions which 
apply only to this Kali-yuga the practice 01 
remarriage derives no countenance from the Shastras 
in this Kali age,' thereby impliedly admitting that 
in the previous ages, when the prohibitions did not 
exist, it was valid by the Shastras. This is a 
position about which there is a general consensus of 
opinion of all the authorities most opposed to the 
concession of this liberty to widows in this age. 
Once, however, it is admitted that re-marriage is, 
authorized by the Shastras for the previous ages, 
Vyankata Shastri's argument comes to the assistance 
of the advocates of re-marriage much in the way of 
a plea in abatement. It simply asks both parties to 
put up their quarrels for the present, and for thirty- 
one thousand years more, at which distance of time 
alone the prohibitions will come inio force, even 
allowing them to have any binding character. 

The advocates of re-marriage are, however, in a 
position to make out a much stronger case. They 
are able to show in the first instance, that the 
re-marriage of widows has the positive authority of 
the Shastras, which Shastra authorities hold good for 
all the four Yugas, that is for all time. They are 
also able to establish, that, allowing the prohibitory 
texts for the Kali-yuga to be in force now, they 

56 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

only restrict, and do not totally abrogate, the privilege 
enjoyed before, and that the widow's case falls under 
the class of the permitted circumstances of distress, 
in which it is lawful for a woman once married in 
due form, if she is unable to live a life of single 
devotion to her deceased husband's memory, to marry 
another man. Before we proceed to arrange the 
texts in due order, it is necessary to bear in mind 
that the Vedas, the Smritis, and the Pur jams including 
Itihasas are the three-fold authorities which constitute 
our Law, and that the Veda texts over-ride all Smriti 
texts, and these latter over-ride all Puranas, in cases 
of direct conflict. When the former class of authorities 
are silent, then the latter are held binding and 
authoritative. The fiction is that all these Smriti 
texts proceeded from one and the same source, and 
they must all be reconciled together, a place being 
found for every text by force of the rules mentioned 
before, and also by a rule which allows to one 
institute a sort of presidential authority for its age 
controlling all others, if in direct conflict with it. 
The ordinary rules of interpretation are the same in 
Hindu law as in English law, that words are to be 
understood in their plain and grammatical meaning, 

that technical words are to be understood in their 


technical sense, that a general law is restricted in its 
operation by a special and particular one, and so on. 

With these prefatory remarks, we enter upon 
the argument by which we hope to establish, 
that the Shastras common to the four ages permit 
or authorize the re-marriage of widows in all castes. 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 57 

The only difficulty in the way of the right 
of the widow to marry again is the fact of her 
completed first marriage. All texts, therefore, which 
permit or authorize or prohibit an Udlui, a woman 
whose first marriage is perfected, to marry again 
under certain enumerated cases of distress, authorize 
or prohibit, a fortiori, the remarriage of widovfs. 
We shall now enumerate the texts in their order ; the 
Vedic texts first, the Smritis next, and after them 
the references in the Puranas and the Itihasas. 
The Vedic Texts. 

" Get up, oh woman, you who lie down by 
the side of this your lifeless husband. Come to this 
crowd of living people about you here, and may 
you become the wife of some person desirous of 
taking the hand of a widow in re-marriage." 

This text occurs in Yajurveda, Taittirfya Aran- 
yaka, Prapathaka, VI Shloka 14. It occurs in all the 
other Vedas also, and is quoted in Ashwal/iyana 
IV, 2, 58, and also in Baudhjlyana. In the course 
of the re-marriage discussions, this text was brought 
prominently to the notice of the late Pundit Vishnu 
Shastri by Dr. Biihler, who remarked that by a 
slight modification of two letters in one word, the 
text was made to countenance Satee, when it was 
really meant to persuade the widow to re-marriage. 
It is addressed to the wife of an Agnihotri Brahmin 
deceased, who it seems had in old times by way of 
expressing her grief to lie down by the side of the 
corpse of her dead husband. Some near relation, 
says the Sutra, is to go to her after having recited 

58 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

this text, and with the right hand raise her up, and 
bring her back to the crowd of her relations. This 
is an express text, and the translation as given is 
taken word for word from Sayana's Commentary. If 
the wife of an Agnihotrf, who has even borne 
children to hnn, may marry, all objection to the re- 
marriage of helpless girl-widows is, a fortiori, removed. 

'Therefore many wives to one husband there 
may be, but not many husbands together to one 

This text occurs in Aitareya Brahmana, III 
Panchika, 22 Khanda. The word saha (together'} is 
very significant, no such word occurs in reference to 
the husband. It indicates that one woman cannot 
have many husbands together at the same time, 
impliedly sanctioning a second marriage when the 
first husband is dead and gone, &c. 

'Your first husband was the moon, after him 
Gandharva became your husband. Agni was your 
third husband, and those born of men will be your 
fourth husband/ 

This text occurs in Rigveda, VIII Ashtaka, and is 
recited on the occasion of marriage. Every girl is 
thus the wife successively of three superhuman beings, 
and what is the most significant part of the text, it 
says, those born of men (the word is in the plural 
number) will, altogether, as belonging to the order of 
human beings, be your fourth husband, impliedly giving 
sanction to successive marriages with human husbands. 

' Oh Ashvini Kumara, where do you stay 
during the night ? Where do you remain during the 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 59 

day ? Where do you dwell ? What priest offering 
sacrifices invites you to the sacrifice as a widow 
attracts her second husband, or a wife attracts the 
man who is her husband to be present with her in 
her bed.' 

This text occurs in Rigveda, VII. , 18. It is 
useful to show that in those archaic times, it was a 
common illustration to speak of widows blessed in the 
company of their second husbands. It was no more 
strange, no more disreputable, than for a wife to be 
happy in the embrace of her husband. 

The mention of a Didhishu husband, that is, 
a man who marries a widow, or a woman who has 
been married once before, occurs in several places in 
the Vedas, as, for instance, in Taittiriya Brahman^, 
III, 4, 4, this passage occurs : 

' To the Goddess Anidhi, the sacrifice of a 
Didhishu husband is enjoined/ which passage contains 
aii enumeration of human sacrifices to the different 
gods, arid to some god, it seems, the sacrifice of a 
man who was married to a widow was specially 
acceptable, just as others liked children or women or 
old men, or even Brahmins learned in the Vedas. 

Lastly, in a passage in Atharva Veda IX., 
5, 27, which was communicated by Dr. F. Kielhorn, 
Professor of Oriental Languages, Deccan College, 
Poona, it is expressly said, that 

' She who having had a first hnsband subse- 
quently marries another second husband, provided 
they two give an Aja Panchodana, they should not 

60 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

The following verses are still more emphatic : 

'This second husband goes to the same place 
in heaven with the twice married woman, if he gives 
an Aja Panchodana, a kind of offering, and additional 
offerings to the sun.' IX. 2, 28. 

' Such married couples after giving a cow with her 
Calf, a bullock, a bed, clothes and gold, go to the best 
of heavens.' IX. 5, 29. 

We fail to see what more man or woman can 
desire after this assurance. 

Against all this mass of express permissive texts 
and incidental references (and incidental references 
have in the case of the Vedas the same force as 
express permission), against all this mass of evidence, 
tjiere is nothing to be advanced on the other side 
except one solitary text. 

'As about the same sacrificial post, two cords 
can be tied round, so one man may marry two 
wives. As one cord cannot be tied round two 
sacrificial posts, so one wife cannot marry two 

This text occurs in Black Yajurveda, Ashtaka VI. 
Adhyaya 6, Prapathaka 4, Anuvaka 3. After all, it 
comes to no more than this, that one woman cannot 
marry two husbands at the same time. For there 
is nothing to prevent one cord, when loosened from 
the first post to which it was tied, from being wound 
round another post. And that this is the- correct 
rendering will be seen by comparison of this text 
with the second text translated before, where the 
significant word 'together' occurs. 

Vedic Authorities Jor Widow Marriage, 61 

Besides this solitary text, no Vedic text expressly 
prohibiting the marriage of widows, or the re-marriage 
of a girl once married in due form, has been discovered. 
The Benares Pandits have sought to infer indirect 
prohibition from the use of the word Kanyti, daugh- 
ter, in the mantras which are recited at the time 

of the first marriage. 

The father says to the bridegroom : ' I give this 
my Kanyd, daughter by pouring this water on 
your hand. ' Now it is 'contended that the word 
Kanya, daughter, should be restricted to the artificial 
sense of an ' unmarried daughter, ' as if the relation 
of the father and mother to the girl, expressed by 
the word Kanya or daughter, ceases at the time of 
the marriage, and ever after. This position, however f 
cannot be sustained, for the daughter remains Kanya 
to her father, inherits as such, sits in mourning as 
such, offers oblations to him as such as long as she 
lives, and long after through her sons. Moreover, 
there are innumerable texts in which the word 
Kanya is applied to a married daughter. The Vedic 
texts recited at the time of the first marriage, as 
they contain no words of limitation, apply with equal 
effect to any second marriage when the father gives 
away his widowed daughter. The father in giving 
away his daughter does not part with all his rights 
over her. He only creates other rights and other 
relations, good for the time they stand. Just as 
when a prince gives land in service Inam, the grantee 
is the proprietor so long as he lives, or has issue 
capable of carrying into effect the objects for which 

62 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the gift is made, and the prince, on failure of issue, 
may make a second gift of the land, the gift of a 
daughter in marriage is a conditional one, and not 
an out-and-out gift. The fourfold objects for which 
the gift of a girl is made are defeated by the 
husband's death, leaving the girl widowed behind him, 
Desolate and hopeless, and the father has every 
right by the analogy to make a second gift of his 
daughter or Kanya, We have thus shown that the 
Vedas, the highest authority on matters of law, 
recognise re-marriage as a permitted thing even to 
the wife of an Agnihotri, and that she should be 
allowed to remain as wife, and that it was an 
ordinary thing in those days to speak of the felicity 
of widows and their second husbands. 



Vyasa in his Smriti i, 4, says : ' When a conflict 
is seen between the Vedas, the Smritis and the 
Puranas, then the Vedas are the authority. In case 
of conflict between the latter two, the Smritis are to 
be preferred/ As regards preference among the Smriti 
texts themselves, there are two rules of construc- 
tion. First, 'If one set of Institutes contradicts the 
other, then there is option' (Mitakshara, Commen- 
tary on Yajnavalkya, v. 5). And, again, each age has 
its presiding Institute. Secondly, 'In the Kritayuga 
the Institutes of Manu, in Treta the Institutes of 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. ti3 

Gautama, in Dvapara the Institute of S'ankha and 
Likhita, and in the Kali age, the Institutes of 
Parasara, are to be preferred ' in cases of conflict. 
With the help of these rules of interpretation, we 
shall now enumerate the Smriti texts in their order, 
continuing the enumeration of the authoritative texts 
which permit the re-marriage of a woman who^e 
marriage has once been completed. 

Manu, ' In the case of five afflictions, namely, 
when the husband has gone abroad and no tidings of him 
have been obtained, when the husband is dead, when 
the husband becomes a Sanyasi, recluse, when the 
husband is a eunuch, and lastly when the husband 
being guilty of the five great sins, becomes a Patita, 
that is, one for whose offence no atonement is pre- 
scribed ; in these five afflictions another husband is 
permitted by the Institutes to women/ 

This is explicit enough. This text does not 
occur in the Institutes as they are extant, but 
Madhavacharya cites and extracts it as from Manu, and 
it is found in the Narada Smriti which professes to 
be an epitome of Manu Smriti, and it is acknowledged 
by all that it is a text of Manu. The fact is, it is 
the law of the dissolution of the marriage tie which 
this text expounds. As the modern law allows seven 
years' unheard-of absence as a justification- for 
re-marriage, these Institute-writers did the same. 
A long unheard-of absence, death, imbecility, renun- 
ciation of the world or becoming a monk, and lastly 
excommunication for great offences, these are all valid- 
justifications for the dissolution of the marriage tie 

64 Essays on Religious and Social Rejorm. 

by natural law, for in all these cases the great objects 
of marriage are defeated. 

Narada. This same text occurs in Narada Smriti 

IX. 12, 97- 

The verses which come immediately after the 
text in this Smriti explain the first word of the text, 
Nashte, that is, gone abroad and not heard of. Those 
verses also explain the length of the period during which 
a wife should wait for her absent husband of whom 
no tidings are received. ' A Brahmin wife should wait 
for eight years for her absent husband ; if she has 
never borne children, she should wait for four, and 
then accept another husband.' In a similar manner, 
periods of six and three years, and four and two 
years, are prescribed for women of the Ksbatriya and 
Vaishya castes, respectively. No period is prescribed 
for a Shudra's wife. ' In all cases when tidings of 
his being alive are received, the period of absence 
should be double. This is the view of Prajapati 
about absent husbands. If after the period prescribed, 
the woman associates with another husband, there is 
no sin in the act/ About the other afflictions similar 
uncertainty does not exist, for the period is certain 
when the disability commences and the Smriti is silent. 

Narada. ' In the case of a husband belonging 
to one of the four different sorts of eunuchs, 
their wives should abandon them though they have 
cohabited with them, IX. 12, 15. In the case of two 
others of the imbecile class, A kshipla and Moghdbija, 
another husband is permitted to their wives after six 
months' trial, though they have cohabited with them. 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 65 

In the case of a seventh kind of imbecile, who 
feels passion only in the company of women other 
than his wife, the wife should marry another husband/ 
These texts are important, for they afford a sure 
index of the meaning attached by the writers of the 
Institutes to the main text quoted before. In both 
the texts the word used is Pati, and one of the 
arguments in the recent discussion at Poona, and in 
fact the chief argument on the other side was, 
that the second word Pati, occurring in the main 
texts, should be rendered into a protector, which 
meaning is plainly out of place here. The texts 
translated in this and the preceding para, remove all 
doubt on this head. The latter come immediately 
after the main text, and in them the same word Pati 
is used all through in a manner where it can be 
understood as husband and husband alone. The 
limitation of the period of absence is different in the 
case 1 of a woman who has borne children from that 
in the case of her who has borne none from her 
first husband. Then in the texts about eunuchs, 
though the first husband has lived and cohabited as 
Pati, Kritcpi Patikarmani, yet as he is incapable 
of Patikarma, the functions of a Pati, another Pati, 
or husband, is prescribed. This settles all doubts as 
to the sense in which the word is to be understood, 
that it is a perfect Pati, and not a candidate pro- 
posed to be a husband that is spoken of in these 
and other texts. 

Moreover, in the text from Manu and Narada 
bout the five afflictions, translated above, the first 


66 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

word Pati being understood in its proper sense as 
husband, it is not possible to give any other meaning 
to the second word Pati. The same woman, who 
has lost her first Pati, husband, is, according to the 
text, to take another Pati. If by this were meant 
that she was to seek a protector he cannot be 
Any a } another, Pati. He can be Anya, another, 
only with reference to the first. Besides, a mere 
protector can be of no help in remedying the affliction 
which the loss or incapacity of the first husband 
brings with it. A husband who is a eunuch does not 
become unfit to be a protector of his wife, for he 
can protect and maintain her most comfortably. 

This same word Pati is, moreover, not an 
ordinary undefined word. Nearly all the Institute 
writers have defined it. Manu, Narada, Yama, 
Wasishtha, Brihaspati, and others have said : ' Not 
by the pouring of water on the bridegroom's hand, 
nor by the offer by word of mouth, is the bride- 
groom called Pati, husband of the kanya, daughter. 
It is after the ceremony of taking hold of the hand 
that, at the seventh step, which the bride and bride- 
groom take together, the bridegroom becomes Pati 
of a certainty/ 

This definition of the word ought to silence all 
doubts as to the interpretation to be put upon 
the word Pati in the texts from Manu and Narada 
quoted before. Together they establish that- a second 
marriage is lawtul to a woman under the enumerated 
five afflictions, which, in the jurisprudence of all 
other nations, have been held to justify dissolution 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 67 

of the marriage tie with consequent liberty to marry 

To proceed with the argument: 

Manu, IX. 176. 'She who is abandoned by her 
husband or is a girl widow, if she has never 
cohabited with a man, she is fit to be piarried to a 
second husband. If she leaves her first husband, and 
returns back without having cohabited with another 
man, the first husband may go through a second 
ceremony of marriage with her.' 

Besides the five cases of distress before mentioned, 
Manu in the text adds two more, only with the quali- 
fication, that she should be free from impure cohabitation. 

Wasishtha, XVII.' On the death of the husband of 
a girl-wife, who has been merely married with the 
recital of the Mantras, but has never cohabited with 
her husband, she is fit to be given in marriage again.' 

Prajapati < If she is a girl widow or has been 
abandoned by her husband by force or violence, then 
she is fit to be taken as a wife by any man upon 
a second ceremony of marriage.' 

Narada ' Even if the marriage rites have all been 
completed, if the daughter has not cohabited with 
the husband, she is fit to be married again. She is like 
an unmarried daughter, kanya, or as though no 
marriage was celebrated.' 

Shatatapa ' A husband from a low family or of 
bad disposition is not fit to be united in marriage 
to a daughter. Though the Mantras, marriage 
texts, have been repeated, that is, though the 
marriage rites have been performed, they are not 

88 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

binding. If she has not cohabited with him, she 
should be wrested back from him by force, and given 
in marriage to another who is qualified. 1 

The last two texts and others to the same effect 
are of importance. They show what importance is 
attached to the complete performance of marriage 
rites. They are not allowed to work injustice even 
when the first husband is living ; and a fortiori, it 
cannot have been intended that they should stand in 
the way of the widow after his death. 

Katyayana ' If after having married the girl, 
the husband dies or disappears, the girl may marry 
again after an interval of six months.' 

Katyayana ' If the husband is of another 
caste, or a palita, or a eunuch, or of bad disposition, 
or belongs to the same Gotra or clan, or is a slave, 
or is afflicted with chronic malady, in all such 
cases, a Kanya, daughter, though the marriage rites have 
all been performed, is lit to be given in marriage 
to another person with clothing and ornaments.' 

This text is important as it shows that a husband 
who is afflicted with chronic sickness does not stand 
in the way of a second marriage. A fortiori, a 
husband dead cannot put in a claim to keep the 
girl a widow all her life. 

Wasishtha < If he comes of a low family or is 
evil-disposed, or is a eunuch, or is patita, or is 
aiiiicted with epilepsy, or is -diseased, or is "an actor, 
or belongs to the same Gotra, clan, in all these cases, 
the daughter, though given in marriage, may be 
wrested back and given again.' 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage.. 69 

Many other texts may be cited, but these will 
suffice. There are thus no less than eight different 
Institutes which permit the re-marriage, under peculiar 
circumstances of distress, of a girl once married in 
due form. Of course, they do not all enumerate the 
same particular justifications, but five of them ex- 
pressly allow re-marriage in the case of t'he husband's 
death, and the others, by implication or by analogy. 
By way of summing up, it may be stated, that there 
are no less than seventeen afflictions upon the 
happening of which different Institutes permit a second 
marriage to a girl once married in due form. 

All the texts cited hitherto are texts which have 
efficacy for all the Yugas. They may well be regarded 
satisfactorily to establish that as in the Vedas, so in the 
Institutes, so far from there being no recognition of 
the validity of re-marriage, there are express provisions 
for no less than seventeen cases in which remarriage 
is justifiable. Against this mass of authorities, what 
have the other side to show ? not a single express 
text which negatives this permission. Manu, in his 
chapter on the duties of a widowed woman who 
wishes to live in single devotion to the memory of 
her deceased husband, says very naturally, in the 
exaggerated way so common with him, that : ' The 
widow should emaciate her body by subsisting 
on fruits, roots, and flowers ; let her not when her 
lord is deceased, even pronounce the name of another 

Moreover : The widow who from a desire of 
children proves unchaste to her husband, and has unlaw- 

70 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

ful intercourse with another, brings disgrace on herself, 
and will not attain the place in heaven where her 
husband goes. The children begotten on her by any 
other than her husband is not her progeny nor the 
progeny of such begetter.' In respect of chaste women, 
this other is nowhere spoken of as her second husband. 

These are the only texts which have been urged 
on the other side ; and, strange to say, relied on by a 
few European scholars of some authority on points 
[>f law. They all lay down the line of conduct which 
a widow who wishes to live a life devoted to the 
memory ot her deceased husband should observe. 
They only prohibit illegitimate connections. The advo- 
cates of remarriage have never maintained that a 
woman after her husband's death should not live a 
life of single devotion to her deceased husband. They 
freely allow that such heroic self-sacrifice to a senti- 
ment is peculiarly meritorious. But a woman who 
cannot live this species of life, a woman who is 
widowed when a girl, before she knew who was her 
husband, before she knew what her duties as wife were 
surely such a woman cannot practise this devotion. It 
is on behalf of such women chiefly, that this reform is a 
peremptory crying want, and to require them to live a life 
of devotion in the manner Manu prescribes is a simple 
mockery of all religion and justice. And after all, the 
woman is directed not to prove unchaste, not to have 
unlawful intercourse with another. To the same effect is 
another passage from Manu often quoted : 

'To whomsoever the father or the brother with 
the consent of the father gives her in marriage, she 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 71 


should serve him while living, and not prove unchaste 
to him even after his death.' The word used is 
Langhayet, over-step, which Kulluka Bhatta, the 
commentator, interprets to mean Vyabhicharet have 
unlawful intercourse. 

Manu, again : 'A girl can only be g4ven away 
once in marriage. Three things occur once only. 
Inheritance from the same ancestor can only take 
place once, a daughter can only be given away once, 
and the same thing can be given awa) to another 
once only.' By the analogy of the illustrations, it is 
apparent, that this text only determines the finality 
of the first marriage as a general rule, except where 
other texts intervene by way of exceptions. Except in 
places where these texts, intervening, allow a second, 
marriage, the girl, it is admitted, can only be given 
away once. The exceptions where remarriage is 
allowable are as much law as the rule. Otherwise the 
host of texts which sanction forcible separation, 
which justify the reversal of a gift, which allow a 
second gift, would become simply meaningless. This 
is all that has been adduced on the other side against 
the positive permission of the Institutes. The general 
rule, no doubt, is that a first marriage is final, 
but the very Institutes which prescribe this finality, 
enumerate seventeen different exceptions to this 
general rule, in which second marriage is allowed 
to women as a permitted resource, not of equal merit 
with the life of a devoted widow, but still of legal 
force and efficacy. Much indeed has been made by 
the Benares Pandits of a text of Yajnavalkya which 

72 JEssays on Religious and Social Reform. 

enumerates the qualifications of a girl who should 
be selected for a wife : 

' He who has never had sexual intercourse, 
should, after having completed his studies, marry a 
well-qualified girl, one who has not been given away 
in marriage to another before, who is handsome, who 
does not belong to his Sapindas, near relations, and who 
is younger in years, who has no disease, who has 
brothers, who is not of the same Gotra, who is not 
within the prohibited degrees both on the father's 
and mother's side, whose ancestors for ten generations 
have been well known, who comes of a distinguished 
family learned in the Vedas, prosperous, and without 
any defect or hereditary disease. The bridegroom 
rhould also possess these same qualifications, be of 
the same caste, proficient in the Vedas, of potency 
proved with care, young, intelligent, and liked by all.' , 

The qualifications of both the girl and the boy are 
enumerated at greater length in Manu and the other 
Institutes, But it is plain from the quotation that 
all these circumstances are mentioned as Arthawada, 
recommendations only. They are not essentials. 
For, if it were so, no man could marry a second 
wife on the death of the first, for the text requires 
that he should be one who has had no intercourse 
with woman before, a consequence which will not at 
all be welcomed by those who so strenuously assert 
that a virgin girl alone can contract legal marriage. 
So much in the way of answer to these objections. 

From these quotations it will appear that both 
in the Vedas and in the Smritis which are common 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 73 

to all the four ages, there are no less than seventeen 
circumstances of distress under which a woman married 
once may lawfully contract a second marriage, and 
there is not a single express text negativing the 
permission given in these excepted cases. For, this 
express negation is essential to establish the opponent's 
case. The advocates and the opponents both allow 1 
that a first marriage is, as a rule, final and binding ; 
the advocates, however, further assert that the law 
allows exceptions to the rule in the enumerated cases 
of affliction which form so many justifications for 
second marriage. It is for the other side to show 
that there are other texts which negative the force 
of these express permissions. Mere general recom- 
mendations or assertions of the finality of fir o >t 
marriages will not be good answer against definite 
exceptions allowing re-marriage. 

The proposition then is established that in these 
enumerated instances, re-marriage is permitted by the 
Smriti texts. It should be borne in mind that 
these are the only Smritis which speak anything either 
way. The others are simply silent. 

To come now to our own Yuga ; we meet at 
the threshold, for the first time, with general negations 
of this permission accorded by the unanimous con- 
sensus of all the Smritis in the three first ages. 
Re-marriage, along with several other practices, is 
prohibited in the Kali Yuga by the following texts. 
Most of them, it is to be observed, are Puranas, of 
inferior validity to Smritis, and a -few, which profess 
to be Smritis, are the works of inferior authors, 

74 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

whose names are not enumerated among the leading 
Institute writers. 

These negative texts are : 

K rat u 'The practice of begetting a son from the 
husband's brother after the husband's death, the re-marriage 
of a daughter who has been once given away in marriage, 
killing of cows in sacrifices, and becoming a Sanyasi, 
these four things are prohibited in Kaliyuga.' 

Now, it is to be observed upon this, that the 
last practice, so far from being abolished in Kali, is 
at present in force, and His Holiness the Shankaracharya 
himself comes within this exception. If the text is 
to hold good against one forbidden practice, notwith- 
standing the generality of its words, it must hold 
good for the same reason against the other. 

A'di Purana- -< The re-marriage of a girl once 
married in due from, the excess portion due to the 
eldest brother, the killing of cows, begetting a son on a 
brother's wife, and becoming a Sanyasi, are prohibited in 

Brahan-Naradiya Parana 'The gift in re-marriage 
to another of a girl once given away in marriage is 
prohibited in the Kaliyuga.' 

A'ditya Purana, Brahma Parana, Galava and 
Devala, the latter two inferior Institute writers, whose 
Institutes have perished as entire works, and are only 
extant in rare quotations by modern authors, ^contain 
the same or similar prohibitions. 

Now, it is to be observed with regard to them 
all, that they are all texts of a very general sort. 
None of them contemplate the particular case of the 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 75 

re-marriage of a widow. Nobody ever maintained, 
that, as a rule, a girl once married in due form 
might be given away in marriage to another. Even 
in the previous three Yugas, it is only under special 
circumstances, which the authors of the Institutes 
have been careful to enumerate, it is .only on the 
occurrence of those particular contingencies, that 
re-marriage is allowed. Such particular permissions are 
not interfered with by general texts prohibiting the 
re-marriage of a girl once married in due form, a 
position which nobody ever disputes. None of them, 
moreover, contemplating the case of a widow, 
negatives the permission accorded by the texts common 
to all the Yugas quoted before. The fact, however, 
that so many writers of the Puranas, who lived 
comparatively in very modern times, thought it 
necessary expressly to prohibit the practice, shows 
convincingly that, as they understood it, the practice 
was very common in the previous Yugas, and they 
wished to restrain the liberty of archaic times. This 
is the strongest argument in favour of those who 
maintain that the re-marriage of widows had the 
express countenance of the Shastras in the previous 
Yugasy and was in extensive use and favour in those days. 
However, to proceed with the argument, these texts 
quoted above being merely general prohibitions 
against the re-marriage of a girl once married in due 
form, a position which nobody ever contended 
against, do not come into conflict with the particular 
texts, as we have ascertained it before, which allowed 
liberty to women to re-marry under certain enumerated 

76 Essays on Religious and Sociat Reform. 

circumstances, and among others, on the death of 
the husband. Besides, most of them being only 
found in the Puranas, they have no force against 
express Smriti texts, by a well-known rule of con- 

Allowing, however, to these texts an operation 
in excess of the force of the words used, it is to 
be borne in mind that the leading Smriti for the 
Kaliyuga, the production too, of one who is ranked 
among the most authoritative Institute writers, 
expressly sanctions the practice of re-marriage in five 
enumerated cases. As if to anticipate all objections, 
Parashara, in his celebrated texts, simply reproduces the 
texts of Manu and Narada quoted before, and, 
by thus expressly re-establishing these old Institutes 
as the law for this age, removes all manner of 
objections out of the way. 

Panishara's Institute, it will be seen, is intended 
expressly for the Kaliyuga, and this presidency of his 
Institute, his authority to control all other conflicting 
Smritis and a fortiori all Puranas, as a matter of course, 
has been acknowledged by all the commentators, 
among others, by the author of Nirnaya Sindhu, by 
Nilkantha, the author of the fylayukhas (see Sanskara 
Mayukha and Samaya Mayukha), and by Shankar 
Bhatta, the author of the Dwaita Nirnaya. This right 
of controlling all other conflicting texts has been 
allowed by all orthodox writers, and it 'is their 
acknowledgment of this supreme right of Parashara 
to dictate the law for the Kali age, that has forced 
them to distort the meaning of this text in some 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 77 

way or other which will not conflict with their 
favourite prejudices. 

It is to be remarked, then, that this text of 
Parashara reviving or re-enacting for this age the old 
law is very pregnant with suggestions. In the first 
place, it is expressly intended for the Kaliyuga in 
which, moreover, it has precedence over all others. 
Secondly, it enumerates the particular cases of affliction 
when re-marriage is allowed. Thirdly, it refers to 
the first three castes, for the word Pravrajita means 
a Sanyasij and only members of the higher castes 
can aspire to the dignity. Fourthly, it permits re- 
marriage, though the first marriage has been in every 
sense completed. 'On the death, &c., of the first 
Patiy husband, his widow may marry a second 
husband or Pati! Now nobody can become a Pati, 
or husband, by any ceremony short of the Saptapadi, 
walking the seven steps together, which is the binding 
and concluding rite. In these four respects, this text 
is special in its permission and authorization. None 
of the prohibitory texts has this character. They 
simply contain a general prohibition which in no way 
conflicts with the spirit of Parashara's text. The late 
Mr, Vithoba Anna of Kariida, who took part in the 
discussion of 1869, had collected two new texts from 
inferior Smriti writers, which seem to be more particular 
than those mentioned before. They are as follow : 

Bebhravya ' After the completion of the marri- 
age ceremony, if the separation takes place of the 
husband, wise men should not give away their daugh- 
ters in marriage again in the Kali age.' 

78 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

Wayu Samhita < Whether the husband is living or 
dead, his wife should not beget children from her 
husbaud's brother. In this Kali Yuga, a girl who 
has been married once in due form should not be 
accepted in second marriage/ 

Now, in the first place, these texts are fragmen- 
tary ones, the books where they are to be found 
do not exist ; secondly, they are the works of very 
inferior Smriti writers and not to be pitted against 
Manu, Narada, Parashara, Wasishtha, &c. ; thirdly, they 
are not so special in their particulars as the text 
of Pardshara which, therefore, controls them ; fourthly, 
that even if they were so special in their particular 
circumstances, the superior efficacy of Parashara as the 
law-giver of the Kali age must prevail ; and fifthly, 
that even if it did not prevail, this conflict of two 
Smritis can only create an optional duty. It will be 
thus seen that those who advocate the Shastraical 
validity of re-marriage are able to give a very satis- 
factory account of the prohibitory texts which apply 
to this Kali Yuga. At the best, giving them the most 
extensive operation, they only restrict the liberty 
given in the previous Yugas in seventeen different 
cases ; they restrict this liberty to five occasions out 
of the seventeen, and by this method of reconcilia- 
tion, all the authorities are reconciled. This great 
argument of the reconciliation of the texts was first 
laboured out by the late lamanted Pandit - Ishvara- 
chandra Vidyasagara, and has stood its ground against 
all attacks notwithstanding the great ventilation of 
the subject since. By his research and originality 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 79 

and the noble devotion of his life's best days and 
all that is prized in human possessions to the 
promotion of this great emancipation of the women 
of his race, Pandit Ishvarachandra has become a 
household name for all that is great and good in 
human nature throughout India, and a potent 
influence for good in the ages to come. 

The proposition then stands true beyond all 
possibility of dispute that there is express authority in 
the Shastras permitting the re-marriage of a girl once 
married in due form, on the happening of certain 
defined contingencies, and that none of the prohibitory 
texts do more than restrict the greater liberty 
allowed to women in the previous Yugas. 

There is one solitary and suspicious text in A'shwala- 
yana Smriti, which requires a brief answer. 

' If a twice-born marries a widow from ignorance, 
as soon as he knows her character, he should abandon 
her ancl do penance/ 

Now about this text, it is to be remarked that 
A'shvalayana Smriti is not intended specially for the 
Kali Yuga, and even if it has force, it cannot have 
more force now than it had in the previous Yugas, 
against the whole current of express permissive texts, 
especially against Parashara, whose Institute is the 
supreme authority for the age ; and lastly, that the 
passage quoted from Atharva Veda, which prohibits a 
husband from abandoning a widow so married, upsets 
all the little force this text might otherwise claim. 

There is thus express permission in the Vedas, 
express permission in the Smriti law common to all 

80 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the Yugas, and express permission in the special law 
for the Kali Yuga ; and it has been shown that all 
the prohibitory texts are mostly very vague and 
general, and so far from abrogating, only restrict the 
number of contingencies when re-marriage is permitted 
by law. <Vnd such of them as are more particular 
are controlled by the Parashara text, first because it 
is so special, and secondly, because it is the binding 
authority for the age. 

In furtherance of this great conclusion, the 
argument from the texts first formulated by Vyankata 
Shdstri comes opportunely to aid. The demarcation 
line which separates one Yuga from another is only 
an imaginary one. The theory is that the race is 
gradually retrograding and degenerating in virtue, in 
capacity for austere endurance, and length of life, 
and as the old law would press too hard upon these 
decaying generations, and old permissions would be 
abused into wild license, it was deemed necessary to 
provide a graduated scale of duties and observances, 
some common to all ages, and other specially intended 
for each age. The world's duration is in all twelve 
thousand years of the gods, which is divided into 
four Yugas, and one Yuga is made to slide into 
another, the intervals being called Sandhya and 
Sandhyansha, or junction periods of the Yugas. To 
provide for this gradual retrogression, a graduated 
central period of four, three, two and one .thousand 
celestial years is in the Bhngvata Purana and the 
Mahabharata, assigned to the four Yugas in succession, 
supplemented in each case by a morning and an 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 81 

evening twilight, lasting for as many hundred years 
each, constituting in all twelve thousand years of the 
gods, as the duration of the world. The prohibitions 
and the observances prescribed for each particular 
age have effect only in the central periods, and 
in the junction or twilight periods, the la,w of the 
previous Yugas may be followed Bhagvata Purana. 
The human year consisting of 360 days is a celestial 
day, whence a celestial year is equal to 360 mundane 
years. The duration of the Kali Yuga being one 
thousand celestial years, its morning twilight or 
transition period is, as will be seen from the above, 
one thousand divine years, that is thirty-six thousand 
human years, and as, according to the received mode 
of calculation, it is only five thousand human years, 
since Kali commenced, there are yet thirty-one 
thousand human years to run before the Kali 
Sandhyd or morning twilight will end. By that 
time, it is thought, caste distinctions will be oblite- 
rated, the Vedas will not be studied, the Ganges will 
lose its sanctity, and the gods become silent. As long 
as these evil prognostics are not realised, so long 
the practices prohibited in the Kali Yuga may be 
observed. And the orthodox commentators base their 
justification for the continuance of ascetic retirement, 
the domestic worship of sacred fire, and many other 
rites, on this ground alone. Re-marriage being like 
them admittedly a valid practice in the previous 
ages, it continues to be a lawful rite now and for 
thirty-one thousand years more, when it is hoped 
there will be little occasion to dispute its validity. 

82 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 



To proceed with our main arguments, we think it 
has been satisfactorily established that the re-marriage 
of widows among the twice-born classes is a practice 
known and recognized in Hindu law, and that 
whether we look to the Vedas or the Smriti or 
Institute writers, the widow remarrying has the legal 
status of a wife. This is clearly established by the 
fact that the Paunarbhava son, that is son born to 
a widow, who has married, occupies a very prominent 
place in all ancient books of law. Except in very 
archaic times, as illustrated by the references from the 
Vedas quoted before, it is likely that the practice of 
re-marriage, however, may not have been very popular, 
as is but natural with a people who habitually 
married very late in life, and prided themselves upon 
a life of the severest austerity. This observation 
holds good of the Brahmin caste only. The warrior- 
caste, being more free to enjoy the sweets of life, 
seem not to have been equally averse from such 
indulgence ; and this brings us to the Puranas and 
the Itihasas, the latest addition to our Shastra lore. 
A few studious scholars have investigated this subject 
from a desire to remove one great stumbling-block 
out of the way of the favourable reception by the 
orthodox population of this innovation, by showing 
that the practice of re-marriage was common in past 

Vedic Authorities Jor Widow Marriage. 83 

times, in the time of their wise ancestors, and 
accordingly, that it may be revived in our present 
age. The industry of those who have searched for 
such illustrations in the Purana myths has succeeded 
in discovering three well-attested instances. 

The first on the list is the re-marriage* of Ulupi, 
the widowed daughter of a patriarch of the Naga 
tribe, who, on the death of her first husband, was 
given in marriage by her father to the famous Arjuna, 
the hero of the Mahabharata story. Uliipi, in so 
many distinct words, is described to have become 
one of Arjuna's many wives, the son she bore to 
him is emphatically described to be his legitimate- 
born son, and not one of the inferior sorts of sons. 
The entire narrative in the Mahabharata, and still 
more emphatically in Jaimini's continuation, corroborates 
this, assertion. 

Thd second illustration is from the story of Nala 
and Dam ay anil. The latter Princess, after having 
been abandoned by her husband in the forest, found 
her way after much suffering to her father's house. 
While there, she bided in hope for some time, but 
could get no news of her absent lord. Thereupon, 
with the consent of her mother, she contrived a 
plan for finding out her long-lost Nala. She secured 
the services of a learned Brahmin to advertise to all 
the neighbouring princes that she was going to have 
a second Swayamvara, and make a choice of 
a husband for herself, in consequences of the dis- 
appearance and probable death of Nala, her first 
husband. This Brahmin carried his message to the 

84 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

court of the king of Ayodhya, with whom Nala had 
sought shelter in the disguise of an obscure charioteer. 
The king of Ayodhya, on hearing this news, prepared 
to go to the Swayamvara, and Nala drove the chariot 
for him with extraordinary speed, the secret of which 
was knowiv to him only. This display of skill and 
certain other circumstances led to his subsequent 
recognition, whereupon all idea of the second marriage 
was given up. This story has its importance, for it 
shows the received opinion among the people of the 
day, to whom such an invitation did not appear in 
any heinous light, did not appear more extraordinary 
than the invitation to the first marriage. That a 
princess like Damayanti, so renowned for her devotion 
lo her husband, should, with the consent of her 
parents, try to discover the whereabouts of her lost 
husband by this stratagem, at once shows that 
re-marriage did not strike people in those times as an 
abomination, but as an ordinary commonplace occur- 

The third illustration is from Padma Punlna, the 
story of the "unfortunate daughter of the king of 
Benares, who was married no less than twenty times, 
it being her peculiar misfortune that as soon as the 
marriage rites were all performed, the husband so 
married died, but though this happened over and over 
again, the father, with the consent of the sage 
Brahmins of his court, solemnly gave her in marriage, 
as often as she became a widow. The emphatic 
words used in the text preclude the supposition 
contended for by some disputants, that the several 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 85 

husbands were removed by death before, and not 
after, the binding marriage rites had been celebrated. 

Dr. R. G. Bhandarkar, in his search of Jain 
Manuscript, came across a work of the eleventh century 
called the Dharma Pariksha, of which the copy seen 
by the learned Doctor belonged to tjie sixteenth 
century. This ancient Jain work gives an account 
of a Brahmin, who studied at Benares till he reached 
his thirty-fifth year, and when he came back to his 
village found it difficult to secure a virgin girl in 
marriage by reason of his poverty. He there- 
upon went to a Jain Pandit, who advised him to 
marry a widow. When the Brahmin demurred to the 
proposal, the Jain savant referred him to the 
Parashara text, which in the Jain" Manuscript was 
indeed in a slightly different form. The Parashara 
text as we now find it in the Shastras is, 

Nashte Mrite Prawrajite 
Klibecha patit6 Patau: 

In the Jain Manuscript the text reads : 

Patyau Prawrajite Klibe 
Pranashte Patite Mrite. 

The other half of the shloka is the same both 
in the Jain and in the old Sanskrit Parashara 
Text. The value of this discovery is that 'the 
difficulty created by the Poona Shastris, was about 
the incomplete form of the word ' ^ ' Patau now 
obviated by the Jain rendering ' *I*ft ' Patyau which; 
t will be seen, mentions the same five occasions ol 
distress when re-marriage is allowed to a widow, 

86 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

The story in the Jain chronicle says that the 
Brahmin married the widow and led a very happy 
prosperous life. 

These are the only instances as yet discovered 
in the mythic Puranas and Itih^sas. In a book of the 
last century,, called Smrityarthasara, or an epitome of 
the Smritis, the compiler mentions without comment 
or disapproval that ' a girl given by word of promise 
may be given away in second marriage; that some 
maintain that before the Saptapadi rite is performed, 
a girl may be given away to another in second 
marriage ; that others maintain that she may be given 
away after the rite is performed till the days of 
puberty, that some texts maintain she may be given 
away though she has had sexual intercourse with her 
first husband, and even after she conceives a child 
from her first husband.' This statement comes from 
entirely orthodox quarters, and has an interest which 
the student of history alone can understand. This 
shows satisfactorily what orthodox writers thought of 
the Shastra texts in the last century. It is a matter 
of history also that in several Brahmin communities in 
Cutch, Sind, and Guzerat, the practice of Pa la marriages 
still obtains. 

We know there are those who are not satisfied 
with such few traces, and would fain have many 
more. To them we have a word or two to say. 
The position taken up by the advocates is, that the 
revival of the Institution sought for is peremptorily 
required in the present circumstances of our society. 
A. strong base, however, of legitimacy must be 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 87 

established before the mass of Hindu society can 
be asked to help their unfortunate daughters and 
sisters out of their unmerited and irremediable 
misery. To ask them to change national institutions 
upon grounds of expediency is a thing they 
cannot understand, and will not tolerate. When 
this legitimate basis is once established beyond all 
danger of being shaken, to crave for more examples 
of the practice is very unreasonable, in respect of 
an institution which is professedly an innovation in 
every practical sense of that word, though it may 
be true, for the matter of that, that it is a renovation 
or a return to the manners of old and purer times. 

Popular conscience has never been dead to the 
claims of this subject on its attention. In two 
recorded instances, the claims of the womankind for 
kinder consideration under this misfortune moved the 
souls, of the great Jayasing, the Maharaja of Jeypoor, 
and of the famous Pandit Appaya Dixit to rebel 
against custom. On both these occasions, however, 
the dead inertia of ages at last prevailed against 
the promptings of nature. In more modern times, 
the question was raised in our own part of the 
country, by the famous Parshurama Panta Bhau 
Patvardhan, the coadjutor of Lord Cornwallis in the 
wars of Tippoo Sultan, and the last of the terrible 
leaders of Maratha conquering hosts. He had a 
young daughter, and Durgabai, we believe, was her 
name. She was given in marriage at a very tender 
age, varying in different accounts from five to nine 
years, to a scion of a Joshi family. The young 

88 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

bridegroom died of small-pox fever, while yet the 
marriage festivities were not over. The brave old 
father was so moved by this calamitous termination 
of his fond hopes to see his daughter blessed, that 
he wrote to the Peishwa at Poona, tendering his 
resignation ' .of his command of the army, and 
expressing a determination to retire from the world. 
The Peishwa's Durbar, who knew the value of the 
man, and felt with him in his sufferings, assured 
him that he need not despair, for they would try 
to find a remedy to comfort him in his great 
affliction. The Shankariicharya of the time was then 
referred to, and his kind offices were prayed for by 
the men in power. The old man had some grudge 
against the Bhau, and he answered that he would 
have nothing to advise in the way of giving comfort 
to a man who was worse than a Yavan. The 
Peishwa's Durbar, it is said, then wrote to the 
Benares Pandits, the Pandits of the Poona court having 
shown a perverse disposition. These Benares Pandits 
sent a letter of assent, in which, moved by the 
extreme infancy of the bride, and also by the consi- 
deration that the cause of Brahmin supremacy would 
be greatly checked by the withdrawal of the Bhau 
from public affairs, they found out that the Shastras 
favour the re-marriage of girls like Durgabai, widowed 
in infancy. On receipt of this letter of the Benares 
Pandits, the Shankaracharya of the day thought it 
wise to yield, and the Poona Pandits were about to 
follow suit, for none dared to come in the way of 
the lion of the Deccan, as he was called. The 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 89 

astute Pandits, however, waited on Parshurama Panta 
Bhdu's wife, and through her they gained their object. 
The mother expressed her readiness to bear with her 
daughter's bereavement, rather than see a new 
innovation introduced. Parshurama Panta Bhau was 
much surprised at this resolution and yielde/i the point 
to the Pandits, declaring that he insisted upon it 
solely with a view to console his wife, and if she 
wished for no consolation, he had nothing more to 
say. Thus the matter ended. The above account 
of the affair represents accurately what happened on 
the occasion. It is taken verbatim from one who has 
himself seen the original papers in the possession of 
the family, in his capacity as one of its old servants 
in charge of the records. The account is, moreover, 
corroborated by the received understanding of all the 
old people in the Patvardhana service, who have often 
said to us that they felt much surprised to find that 
the opponents of re-marriage still had anything left to 
say after the solemn settlement of the question in 
Parshurama Panta Bhau's time. 

We have said all that is necessary to be said 
in illustration of the main theme of these observations 
The agitation of the question for the last thirty years 
has placed the legitimacy of the movement beyond all 
danger, and the Poona discussions brought this fact 
out in a most prominent manner. No question was 
raised there as to the Vedic texts, though special 
attention was drawn to the point ; the argument of 
Vyankata Shastri was not even noticed. The Smriti 
texts were jumbled up together, the main text, 

90 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

common to Manu, Narada, and Parashara, was twisted 
and tortured in all manner of ways, some of them most 
ridiculously absurd, and absolutely no attempt was made 
to show that the only true and natural meaning of 
the text was not the one contended for by the 
advocates. , In fact this point was allowed, but it 
was urged that if the texts were so understood, it 
would come in conflict with others, as if this was 
not the most common thing in the world with these 
Smriti writers. The orthodox disputants made a mess of 
their case, and though the majority of the Panch gave 
utterance to a foregone conclusion, the truth cannot 
be so hidden in these days. Thanks to the labours 
of the late lamented Pandit Vishnu Shastri, and 
more recently of the late Mr. Madhavdas Raghunath- 
das and Rao Bahadur Wamanrao Mahadev Kolhatkar, 
the movement has spread, till at the present day 
more than a hundred marriages have taken place 
among the Gujerathi and the Deccani population of 
the Bombay Presidency, the Central Provinces and 
the Berars. In the Madras Presidency Pandit 
Vireshlingum Pantulu has achieved a similar success, 
nearly thirty marriages having been celebrated in those 
parts. In Bengal during Pandit Ishwarchandra's 
life-time many marriages took place, and though since 
his death there has been more coldness shewn in 
this matter, the labours of Babu Shashipada Bannerji 
have kept up the public interest in this subject. In 
the Punjab, Dewan Santa Ram took the lead and 
about thirty marriages have been celebrated in those 
parts. In all India over three hundred marriages 

Vedic Authorities for Widow Marriage. 91 

have thus been celebrated, and the movement may 
be said to have survived the attack of the orthodox 
opposition. People are being reconciled to this reno- 
vation of the old custom, and persecution is 
becoming, not obsolete, but more bearable. The 
Advocates of Reform may well claim to have 
secured a healthy change in the public feeling in 
this matter. 



THE discussions raised by the publication of Mr. 
Malabari's Notes on Infant Marriage and En- 
forced Widowhood have been notably disting- 
n'shed for the warmth and freshness of light thrown 
ipon many of our most cherished social institutions. 
^s is usual in the case of all discussions on social 
rvils, much declamation and invective have been 
mployed on both sides, to supply the place of 
aim and critical investigation, and the merits of 
he questions really at issue have been obscured 
y clouds of words and figures, and empty boasts 
f self-satisfied complacency. These questions really 
jduce themselves to two points of inquiry, first, 
hether or not the institutions assailed produce 
i the whole more of evil than good, and secondly, 
hether the evil that is in them admits of a 
>eedier and more effective remedy than is 
iplied in the advice of those who would let 
ings alone, and would drift along with the 

State Legislation in Social Matters. 93 

stream of events, but neither exert themselves, 
nor permit others to make an effort, to regulate 
the current and make it run steadier and stronger in 
the desired direction. On the first point, taking the 
general sense of those who have spoken out on both 
sides, there appears to be a general agreement. The 
dispute here is confined to the alleged extent of the 
evils, which are freely admitted to be real. On the 
second point, the difference of views is radical, and 
there does not appear to be any great likelihood of an 
agreement ever being arrived at which will satisfy both 
parties. When one sees how men, who had grown 
grey in the denunciation of these evils, turned round 
immediately a suggestion was made for practical 
action, and joined the orthodox majority in their praise 
of the existing arrangements, the ' Political RishiY 
warning about the deefcts of Hindu character seems 
to be .more than justified. There appears to be no 
ground for hope, under such circumstances, of seeing 
any genuine reform movement springing up from 
within the heart of the nation, unless that heart is 
regenerated, not by cold calculations of utility, but by 
the cleansing fire of a religious revival. However, 
there is really nothing strange in all this outcry. There 
will always be, and there always have been, as 
Lord Ripon in another connection observed, a clean 
and an unclean party in small municipal, as well as 
in large social, arrangements. If the population of 
our cities were entirely left to themselves, and each 
man's or woman's vote was as good as another's, 
the good sense of the men of light and leading would 

94 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

no doubt prevail in the end, but, in the earlier stage 
of discussion and argument, we should doubtless hear 
many an appeal to the glory of our ancestors, their 
long life and vigour, maintained, it might be proudly 
observed, in spite of, or in the absence of, municipal 
conservancy. Even in European countries, there are 
anti-vaccination doctors ; Shakers, who take no medi- 
cine, but leave the body to cure itself ; physical 
science pedants who still question the truth of the 
motion of the earth round its sun centre, and its 
motion round its own axis. A love of paradox is a 
weakness which clings to many great minds, grows 
with their other excellences like a parasitic excres- 
cence. Leaving these unnatural developments aside, it 
is clear that there is a chance of producing a 
reasonable conviction among not the vast majority of 
those who do not think, but among the considerable 
minority who in every country lead public opinion 
by informing it and setting it in proper form before 
the community in general. 

Viewed in this light, there is abundant reason 
for hope that an historical study of these institutions 
will dispel many a false conception of the antiquity 
and sanctity of the existing arrangements. 

The early celebration of child marriages, the 
forcible disfigurement of widows and absolute prohibi- 
tion of remarriage in the higher castes, the occasional 
and local practices of polyandry and polygamy, are all 
admittedly corruptions of recent growth unknown to the 
best days of our country's history. The late lamented 
Hon. Rao Saheb V. N. Mandlik, C.S.I., who speaks with 

State Legislation in Social Matters. 95 

an authority which few will dispute, has freely 
admitted that the Hindu girl's marriageable age is 
twelve, and that the corresponding age for boys has 
been reduced from time to time as the period of 
Brahmacharya, studies, was more and more curtailed. 
Taking the most narrow acceptation of the Grihya 
Sutra rules, this period could not well'* be legally 
curtailed below twelve years, thus making the marriage- 
able age for boys twenty years. In regard to the question 
of widow marriage, it is admitted by the orthodox 
leaders of the opposition that the prohibition forms 
part of the Kali Nishedha, or prohibitions intended 
for the Kali Yuga only. The writings of Manu and 
Yajnawalkya show, what the Puranas and Itihasas 
confirm, that monogamy is the natural condition of 
Aryan life and that both polygamy and polyandry are 
disreputable excrescences. Nobody can, under these 
circumstances, contend that, on the strictest inter- 
pretation of the texts, the local usages which obtain 
at present agree with our best traditions of the past. 
Those who advocate a return to the old order of 
things are thus in good company, and are not foreign 

We have to consider, next, how it came to pass 
that the Aryan population in course of time departed 
from the vigorous and healthy usages of their ances- 
tors. Such an enquiry alone will enable us, who now 
aspire after a higher life, to trace our way back 
without risk of failure or disappointment. The Hindu 
community has always been self-contained, if not 
original, in its grasp of social matters, and no analo- 

96 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

gies drawn from Christian or Mahomedan nations can 
have any convincing force, unless they are supported 
by reasons and associations of our own venerable 

The rise and fall of female rights and status in 
Hindu Aryan Society has a history of its own, at 
once interesting and suggestive in its analogies to the 
corresponding developments in the institutions of 
another kindred stock, the Roman Aryans, who have 
so largely influenced European ideas. Both began by a 
complete subordination of the women in the family 
to the men, and of the men themselves to the head 
of the family. In early Vedic times, the woman was, 
like the deformed or the sickly member of a family, 
devoid of rights, and, being incapable of self-protec- 
tion, was disentitled to share the inheritance. The 
succession in a united family after the death of its chief 
went to the surviving male members, his sons arid 
brothers, and in their default the more distant agnate 

The earlier Sutrakars, Baudhayana and Apastamba, 
clearly re-affirmed this exclusion from inheritance and 
asserted the perpetual subjection of every woman to 
her father, her husband ; and her son. Gradually, 
however, as the Aryans settled in the land, and 
the , necessities of war gave place to the gentler 
virtues and victories of peace, the earlier Smritis 
found admission by express texts for the -wife, the 
mother, the grandmother, daughter, and the sister, 
and finally to the female relations of the male Gotraja 
Sapinda. It is hardly necessary to follow this 

Stale Legislation in Social Matters. 97 

growth step by step. Corresponding with this 
recognition of the claims of family affection, a 
chivalrous regard for women, and for their personal 
comfort and liberty, was asserted in other ways. 
The women took equal part with the husbands 
in solemn religious rites, and as quaens took 
their places in great religious sacrifices and the 
deliberations of State, on occasions of display and 
power. They were permitted at their choice to remain 
single and unmarried, and neither the father nor the 
mother would interfere by exercising their power of 
choosing husbands for them. They were poets, 
philosophers, and Rishis, and composed hymns, 
wrote works and studied and argued with men on 
equal terms. This went on for many centuries, 
and the proofs of it are too numerous in all our 
early writings to admit of any hesitation on 
the part of even the most hostile critic. Marriage 
was optional with man as well as with woman. The 
texts of the Marriage ritual, the rule for selecting 
brides or rather bridegrooms, the practice of Swayam- 
wara in mature age, the liberty to be married again 
on the death, or absence, or incurable impotency, of 
the first husband, both before and after consummation, 
the strictness of the monogamous tie, all these 
privileges were conceded to women in the natural 
growth of things. 

Thus far, there was no break of continuity, and 
all was smooth sailing. The analogies between the 
Roman and Hindu developments were complete so 
far. In course of time, the Arvans. like the Romans. 

98 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

having overcome their enemies, fell to fighting among 
themselves, and long and murderous wars between 
Brahmins and Kshatriyas devastated the land. Under 
the pressure of these complicated difficulties, the 
strong love of the active virtues of fighting and 
hunting, chivalrous regard for women, and the enjoyment 
of the innocent pleasures of life generally, gave way to a 
philosophy which regarded life and being itself as a 
pain and a calamity, the bustle of the arts of peace 
and war as a vanity of vanities. And natu- 
rally weak woman, from being the soul of chastity 
and virtue, came to be described as a snare and a 
burden. The gods, who had cheered the conquering 
and militant Aryans with their countenance, retired 
with the Rishis to the Himalayas and beyond. They 
could no longer be seen, and gave way to a 
fatalistic belief that man was the slave of his own 
miserable Karma, and must bear it patiently till 
he learned how best to throw off this mortal 
coil. The great excess of bad passions which had 
deluged the land with fratricidal blood demoralized 
society, and lowered the status of women in the 
family, the State, and in the social arrangements 
generally. The Aryan ideals lost their charm, and a 
lower type of character and morality [asserted its 
predominance as the down-trodden races, which had 
been driven to the hills, issued from their haunts, 
and fell upon the demoralized and disunited Aryan 
kingdoms on all sides. At the same time, a new 
race of invaders from Central Asia, partly Scythian and 
partly Mongolian in stock, entered India by the : North- 

State Legislation in Social Matters. 99 

West, and the North-East, drove before them the old 
Aryans, and established their power and colonies in the 
Punjab, Sind, Rajputana, Central India, Bengal, 
Guzerat, and even in parts of Maharashtra. This process 
of the upheaval of non-Aryan races, and the invasion 
and settlement of barbarian Scythian and Mongolian con- 
querors, was in active development for many centuries, 
and these ethnic and political forces have profoundly 
modified the institutions and usages of modern India. 
They brought to the surface races of men with a lower 
civilization, more patriarchal, and, therefore, less 
chivalrous ideals of life. Polyandry has always been 
a normal institution of the non- Aryan or Scythian 
and Mongolian races. It derived new dignity from 
the rise to power of these backward races. The 
woman's lot has always been one of dependence and 
misery in barbarous countries. It could not be other- 
wise liere. Woman in these ruder races was bartered 
in marriage as a moveable chattel or slave. She was 
burned with the deceased lord, with his bows and 
arrows, his horse and weapons, to provide for his 
comfort in another world. When these races rose to 
power, the better minds were driven to seek shelter 
in asceticism and abandonment of the world which 
had for them no charms, and only misery, life-long 
and unrelieved; and instead of being tha deity of 
peace and goodwill in the family, woman became 
the symbol of corruption and vice. Optional celibacy 
and Swavamwara were under these circumstances out of 
the question. The old state of pupilage and dependence 
was re-affirmed. Late marriages, and the liberty of 

100 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

second marriage to widows, were denounced, though 
here and there they were allowed to associate with their 
husband's surviving brother for the purpose of pro- 
creating children for him. The well-marked four-fold 
divisions of life lost their meaning and their sanctity, 
and baby -and child-espousals could not but come into 
fashion, and bring in their train polygamy and 
concubinage. Things thus settled themselves on this 
lower level of barbarous usages. 

Gradually, the better and the Aryan portion of 
the community recovered from the surprise and 
discomfiture, and the dark clouds of the Middle Ages 
of Indian History, the dreaded Kali Yuga of the 
Puranas, began to clear up. The Aryan Religion, 
social polity, and marriage institutions were reformed 
on a footing of compromise, and those who guided 
the course of events tried their best to re-assert the 
dominion of the Vedas and of the Brahmins, who 
represented in their persons the highest civilization 
of the olden days. This form of restoration and 
renascence was again interrupted by the Mahomedan 
invasions, which repeated for some centuries all the 
horrors of the previous dark period. Before the 
license of Mahomedan outrage, women shrank from 
public gaze, and it became necessary for their safety 
to secrete them within the dark recesses of the 
house. Polygamy and illicit concubinage became once 
more fashionable. 

It will be clear from this review that internal 
dissensions, the upheaval of non-Aryan races, and the 
predominance acquired by barbarous Scytliian and 

State Legislation in Social Matters. 101 

Mahomedan conquerors, degraded the condition of the 
female sex, deprived them of their rights of inheritance 
and freedom, and made woman dependent on man's 
caprice, instead of being his equal and honoured 
helpmate. Political and ethnic agencies of great 
power have wrought the evil, and we cannot afford 
to lose sight of this fact in our attempts to elevate 
the status of the female sex. Fortunately, the 
causes which brought on this degradation have been 
counteracted by Providential guidance, and we have 
now, with a living example before us of how pure 
Aryan customs, unaffected by barbarous laws and 
patriarchal notions, resemble our own ancient usages, 
to take up the thread where we dropped it under 
foreign and barbarous pressure, and restore the old 
healthy practices, rendered so dear by their association 
with our best days, and justified by that higher 
reason^ which is the sanction of God in man's bosom. 

The next question is, as stated above, a more 
difficult one to deal with. How this gentle revo- 
lution is to be effected without breaking with the 
past, is a problem which admits of difference of 
views. There are two schools of thinkers among 
those who have discussed this subject. One set 
would utilize all the active and passive agencies 
which tend to encourage and vitalize reform ; the 
other set would leave things to take their own 
course, firm in the confidence that the passive 
agencies at work would secure all our ends just as 
we desire, slowly but surely. Those who feel the 
full force of the ethnical and political causes mentioned 

102 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

above, and also feel how necessary it is at certain 
stages of man's progress to secure the assertion of 
right ideas by the highest sanctions, advocate to 
some extent the help of State regulation, as 
representing the highest arid most disinterested wisdom 
of the times, working to give effect to the other 
tendencies, concentrating and popularizing them- 
Those who are not sufficiently alive to these consi- 
derations would trust to education and the gradual 
development of better ideas by their own internal 
force, to achieve all that we desire. It is needless 
to 5cdte that the publication to which these remarks 
are prefaced is intended to strengthen the hands of 
the first set of thinkers, and to show, by the 
example of what occurred in the past, that timely 
State regulation is not attended with the mischiefs 
which people attribute to it, and that it co-ordinates 
and vivifies the healthy action of the other agencies. 
It becomes, in this connection, necessary to consider 
briefly the several objections urged by the advocates 
of the let-alone school in their order of relative 

The first objection urged on this head is that 
these are social questions, which it is not the duty 
of the State to regulate. We answer that this 
argument is not open to those who welcome, as the 
vast majority of this class of opponents freely 
do, State regulation for the abolition of Sati, of 
infanticide, the suicide of j ogees on the banks of 
the Ganges, and self-torture by hook-swinging before 
idol shrines, or to those who propose compulsory 

State Legislation in Social Matters. 103 

education, and compulsory vaccination, and sanitary 
precautions generally. Individual liberty of action is 
no doubt a great force, but this liberty has its 
limitations imposed by the fact that no man's liberty 
should encroach upon the liberty of those who 
surround him. Whenever there is a largo amount of 
unredressed evil suffered by people who caYhiot adopt 
their own remedy, the State has a function to re- 
gulate and minimize the evil, if by so regulating it, 
the evil can be minimized better than by individual 
effort and without leading to other worse abuses. 
The State in its collective capacity represents the 
power, the wisdom, the mercy and charity, of its best 
citizens. What a single man, or a combination of men, 
can best do on their own account, that the State 
may not do, but it cannot shirk its duty if it sees it's 
way to remedy evils, which no private combination 
of mea can check adequately or which it can deal 
with more speedily and effectively than any private 
combination of men can do. In these latter cases, 
the State's regulating action has its sphere of duty 
marked out clearly. On this, and on this principle 
alone, can State action be justified in many important 
departments of its activity, such as the enforcement of 
education, sanitation, factory legislation, of State un- 
dertakings like the postal service, or subsidies given 
to private effort in the way of railway extension and 
commercial development. The regulation of marriage- 
able age has in all countries, like the regulation of 
the age of minority, or the fit age for making 
contracts, been a part of its national jurisprudence, 

104 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

and it cannot be said with justice that this question 
lies out of its sphere. The same observation holds true 
of the condition of the widow rendered miserable in early 
life, and thrown helpless on the world. More legiti- 
mately than minors, the widows are the wards of the 
nation's humanity, and to the extent that the evil 
they suffer* is remediable by man, it cannot be said that 
this remedy may not be considered by the State as 
fully within its proper function. 

The next argument urged on the other side is 
that the evil is not so great as some people think, 
and that it really needs no State action. There can 
be no doubt that, to some extent, Mr. Malabari has 
laid himself open to this side attack. The evils of 
child-marriage, and enforced widowhood, and unre- 


stricted polygamy, are not quantitatively, and calculat- 
ing them by statistical returns, so great as Mr. 
Malabari described them to be. But this does not go 
to show that, after making due allowance for all 
exaggerations, the residue of unredressed wrong which 
calls for remedy is not sufficiently great to justify 
action. Much the same thing was said when it 
was proposed to prohibit Sati or Infanticide. Wherever 
there is undeserved misery endured in a large number of 
cases there is a ground for State interference, always 
supposing that the interference will lead to the redress 
of the wrong, better than any individual effort can 

A third way of stating the same objection is that 
the parties who suffer do not complain of it, and 
strangers have therefore, no business to intervene. 

State Legislation in Social Matters. 105 

This is a very old line of defence. It was 
urged as an argument against the abolition of 
slavery, as well as against the laws which ren- 
dered Sati and Infanticide crimes, and validated widow 
marriages. Perhaps, the worst effect of injustice is 
that it depresses the down-trodden victims to such 
an extent that they lick the hand of the oppressor. 
The slaves fought on the side of the Southern 
planters against their Northern liberators. No wonder 
then, if the helpless women and widows side with the 
orthodox majority. If the State contemplated forcible 
action in spite of the wishes of the victims, the 
argument might be urged with some effect. But 
nobody in his senses can, or does, contemplate any 
such method of procedure. Widows and children are 
not the proper persons who can seek their own 
relief under the \\rong that is done to them, and to 
society, and this argument therefore, falls to the ground. 

Fourthly, it is urged that, admitting the fact that 
such regulation falls within the province of State 
action, and that these evils, after making all allow- 
ances for exaggeration and the apathy of the victims, 
are still sufficient to justify State action, if such 
action can remedy the wrong without leading to other 
and greater abuses, and that it is not proper to wait 
till the victims rebel it is urged that a foreign Go- 
vernment cannot be trusted with this pov\er. This 
jealousy of foreign interference in social matters is 
not altogether a bad sign, and if the interference was 
of foreign initiation, the force of this argument would 
be irresistible. In this case, however, the foreign 

106 JSssays on Religions and Social Reform. 

Rulers have no interest to move of their own accord. 
If they consulted their selfish interests only, they 
would rather let us remain as we are, disorganized 
and demoralized, stunted and deformed, with the curse 
of folly and wickedness paralyzing all the healthy 
activities and vital energies of our social body. The 
initiation is to be our own, and based chiefly upon 
the example of our venerated past, and dictated by 
the sense of the most representative and enlightened 
men in the community, and all that is sought at the 
hands of the foreigners is to give to this responsible 
sense, as embodied in the practices and usages of the 
respectable classes, the force and the sanction of law. 
These considerations weighed with our leaders in the 
Pfcist, when they welcomed this co-operation in the 
abolition of Sati and Infanticide, and also in the 
recognition of the validity of widow marriages. 

If we are to abjure such help under all circum- 
stances, we must perforce fall back behind the Parsis, 
Mahomedans, and Christians, who have freely availed 
themselves of the help in recasting their social 
arrangements. The Parsis through their Punchayeta 
secured to their community the benefit of the Parsi 
Marriage Act, and their Matrimonial Courts with 
Parsi delegates to assist the Judge. The Khojns 
have been striving to secure similar concessions 
for their own community. The Nayars in Malabar, 
have very recently had the benefit of an improved 
Marriage Law extended to them by legislature. 
The movement of proper regulation of religious 

endowments. in resnect nf -wVnVVi rmhlir nnininn 

State Legislation in Social Matters. 107 

is almost unanimous, may be cited as an illustra- 
tion of the readiness of all classes of people not 
to object to State Legislation at the hands of 
foreign rulers. Further, as it is likely that 
foreign rule will last over us for an indefinite length 
of time, we reduce ourselves, by accepting this 
policy, to the extreme absurdity of shutting out 
a very useful help for many centuries to come. In 
such matters, the distinction of foreign and domestic 
rulers is a distinction without difference. It has a 
meaning and significance when foreign interests over- 
ride native interests, but when the foreigners have no 
interest to serve, and the initiative is to be all our own, 
the recognition of State help is not open to the stock 
objection urged by those who think that we forfeit our 
independence by seeking such regulation on lins 
approved by us. 

Fifthly It is further urged, in deprecation of State 
action, that in this matter we must not lose sight of 
the fact that institutions, like constitutions, must grow 
and cannot be made to conform with foreign ideals to 
order. There is, no doubt, some force in this observation, 
and it would be a fatal objection if the argument for 
change were based on the ground that we must copy 
the foreign exemplar. The remarks which have been 
made above are, however, a sufficient answer to .this 
allegation. The change is sought not as an innovation, 
but as a return and restoration to the days of our 
past history. Those who advocate it justify it on the 
authority of texts revered, and admitted to be binding 
to this day. The intermediate corruption and degradation 

108 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

was not of the nation's seeking. It was forced upon it by 
the predominance of barbarous influences, and by the 
intolerance of ruthless conquerors. That force having 
ceased to be operative, we must now return to the 
old order of things, if we are to grow to our old 
proportions. The history of the suppression of 
Infanticide and of Sati shows that these institutions, 
which had grown as excrescences upon the healthy 
system of ancient Hindu Society, were checked, and 
could be checked, only by the strong arm of Law, 
and once they were denounced as crimes, they disap- 
peared from the face of the country. Before Govern- 
ment made up its mind to deal finally with these 
evils, the usual arguments that institutions grow, and 
cannot be made to order, were urged, and the duty 
01 religious neutrality was held up in terrorem to 
frighten the timid and arouse the passions of the 
ignorant and the prejudiced. The diseased mal-forma- 
tions of the body cannot, and should not, be dealt 
with in the same way as its normal and healthy 
developments. The sharp surgical operation, and not 
the homoeopathic infinitesimally small pill, is the 
proper remedy for the first class of disorders, and the 
analogy holds good in the diseases of the body politic, 
as also in dealing with the parasitical growths of 
social degeneration. 

Sixthly The apprehensions against State legisla- 
tion expressed in some quarters might have been most 
reasonable if, as a fact, Hindu Society was really not 
governed by any law, and it was proposed for the 
first time to regulate these matters by subjecting them 

State Legislation in Social Matters. 109 

to the controlling action of the State. The fact, however, 
is that law, a written law, and a very stringent one 
too, does regulate these matters, and it is enforced 
much in the same way as other laws by our Courts 
of Justice. The courts are bound to give effect to 
that law, and decree personal rights and disabilities 
in strict accordance with it. What is now proposed is 
to substitute the more ancient and righteous law for a 
later degenerate off-shoot of that law, cancel the 
travesty of law which is condemned by all, at least 
more amenable to reason, and utilize the force of 
State sanction as a final support. No private under- 
standing can prevail against the coercive power of 
unjust law as it is now enforced. The new law proposed 
is itself not a foreign importation, but is only a revival 
of the ancient law of the country as laid down in 
the texts, and all that the Government is called on 
to do is to revert from the times of corruption to 
the times when Hindu Society was more healthy and 

There is another incidental and an important 
advantage likely to accrue in consequence of the 
change proposed. All progress in social liberation 
tends to be a change from the law of status to 
the law of contract, from the restraints of family 
and caste customs to the self-imposed restraints of 
the free will of the individual. Nay more, the 
confusion caused by inconsistent Smriti texts and judicial 
authorities on ancient Hindu Law and custom furnishes 
the strongest argument for a definite improvement 
based on ancient lines by way of codification on the sub- 

110 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

ject by the legislature. There is not a custom, however 
absurd, which cannot be defended by some strong 
text of ancient law. The usual practice of reconciling 
texts, intended for different ages and countries, and the 
loss of the spirit of true criticism, have benumbed the 
power of judgment. The liberation from superstitious 
thraldom, which will result from the changes 
proposed, is not likely to be the least of its benefits. 
It will be necessary to be very circumspect in 
graduating the change desired to meet exactly the 
extent of the evil crying for redress. The past 
century or half a century has effected a change in 
national sentiment, which, if not recognized to the 
extent it has gone, will only lead to a catastrophe 
and revulsion of feeling that will be simply irresistible, 
and may involve the ruin of many interests dear to 
the nation's heart. 

There is only one more objection which we 
think deserves a passing notice. It is said that all 
previous legislation was directed against positive 
crimes, or was only of a permissive nature, while 
the evils now spught to be remedied are not crimes, 
and the remedies proposed are not of a permissive 
character. On the first point, we must urge that the 
practices now complained of are in some respects 
far 'more criminal than those which State action has 
checked. Sati was committed under temporary 
insanity caused by grief, while infanticide was in too 
many cases dictated by a similar mad impulse. 
They were both offences not committed in cold 
blood, and their effects spent themselves in a single 

State Legislation in Social Matters. Ill 

act of violence, which inflicted the greatest shock on 
the perpetrator himself or herself. In most cases 
enforced widowhood and disfigurement, the destruction 
of home sanctity by polygamous connections, the 
stupidity of baby marriages, are not impulsive acts, 
they are done in cold blood, and they inflict lifelong 
and undeserved misery on helpless victims, while the 
offenders suffer but little. So far as their moral 
heinousness is concerned, they are inflictions of injustice 
without any redeeming features, and the criminal 
responsibility of the nation is beyond all reprieve. 

As regards the question of permissive versus 
compulsory legislation, we have no patience with those 
who can find consolation in empty words. The 
remedies proposed are in their nature permissive, and 
need give offence to nobody. If the law IsPys 
down strictly that no polygamous connection shall be 
entered into except for reasons specially permitted by 
the ancient law of Manu, we fail to see how such 
legislation is more compulsory than permissive. 
When the law lays down that no widow may disfigure 
herself except of deliberate choice, and at a fit time 
of life, say after she is twenty-five years old, where 
indeed is the compulsion ? When the law lays down 
that marriages shall not be celebrated below a certain 
age, at least twelve for girls and eighteen for boys, 
under penalty that earlier celebrations will not meet 
with the recognition of the Civil Courts in cases of 
disputes, where again is the compulsion ? 

We have thus noticed and answered all the usual 
objections urged by those who honestly support the 

112 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

continuance of the existing order of things. The 
question of principle is one which must first be 
argued out in all its bearings. Once the principle is 
recognized, the details of legislation may safely 
be left to the common sense of the community. 
It is with this view that the compiler of this publi- 
cation has addressed himself to the task of placing 
betore the public, in an accessible form, the literature 
of the subject in the shape of the debates that took 
place when the Widow Marriage Bill was just intro- 
duced in the Legislative Council thirty years ago. The 
arguments then urged and refuted have a curious 
family likeness to those we hear at present, and just 
as the apprehensions then entertained were disap- 
pointed, so surely we trust to see that all our ignorant 
pfophecies will be falsified. The directions in 
which the marriage law needs reform have been 
already briefly indicated. Diwan Bahadur Raghunath 
Rao has already sketched out a draft Bill in which 
some of the reforms urgently required are set forth in 
full detail. The late Maharaja of Burdwan submitted 
thirty years ago a scheme for abolishing polygamy. The 
views of those Who have given thought to the subject 
on this side of India may be briefly thus summarized. 

We would, to start with, fix twelve and eighteen as 
the minimum ages of marriage for girls and boys. These 
periods are in full keeping with the most approved 
practice, and the more respectable orthodox sentiment 
of the present day. Even Rao Saheb V. N. Mandlik 
has stated twelve years for females as a permissible 
limit, and for boys we do not think he will regard 

State Legislation in Social Matters. 113 

eighteen years as an unreasonable limit. Marri- 
ages contracted before this age should be dis- 
couraged, not by pains and penalties of the criminal 
law, but by the attendant risk of making them liable 
to be ignored, as in the case of contracts entered into 
by minors, liable to be ignored or set aside in case 
of disputes in the Civil Courts for sufficient reasons. 
Marriage, unless consummated by actual cohabi- 
tation, should not be recognized as a perfect 
union before the limits laid down above are reached. 
Before such consummation, the girl should not be 
recognized as having become one with the husband 
in Gotra, Pinda, and Sutaka. This is the ancient law, 
and our revival of it will do away with the 
superstition which paralyses the action of parents in 
dealing with the misery of child widows. We 
would on no account permit disfigurement except 
after twenty-five years, when the widow may be 
presumed to be able to realize the circumstances of her 
position, and can choose deliberately the celibate course 
of life. Under no circumstances should one wife be 
superseded by a second connection, except under the 
safeguards recognized by Manu and' other writers. 
The widow's forfeiture of her husband's estate 
as a consequence of her second marriage should be 
done away with, and her life interest in her husband's 
inheritance should remain intact, whatever her choice 
of life might be. The marriage of a widower above 
fifty with girls below fourteen should be strictly 
prohibited as being opposed to the most approved 
Smriti texts. 


114 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

These are the several changes which the 
advocates of Reform seek to accomplish, not all at 
once but in due progression. They are fully aware 
that the details of legislation will not be easily 
settled, without suggesting many difficulties and doubts 
which will have to be provided against. The 
time, however, for suggesting these details has yet to 
come. We think the discussion has now reached a 
stage when all sides may well agree in asking for a 
Commission of Inquiry. Such a Commission, composed 
of representative Natives and Europeans, on the model 
of the Education Commission, will pave the way for 
practical suggestions. Its inquiries will give point to 
the discussion, and tend to preserve the interest that 
has been aroused in all quarters. 


JT has been arranged that after service this day, 
I should speak to you a few words about the 
life and teachings of Raja Rama Mohana Roy. 
All of you are aware that this day, the 2/th of 
September, is the anniversary of his death. He died 
while he was on a visit to England ; and his remains 
were buried there by loving friends. He died in 
*833 ; we are in 1896. We are therefore, celebrating 
in this place on this occasion the sixty-third anniversary 
of the death of this great man. Among the orthodox 
community, this particular fortnight tfre dark half of 
the month of Bh&drapada is dedicated by a very 
ancient and a very useful custom to commemorate 
the death of our departed ancestors. Each man and 
woman tries during these fifteen days to remember 
the debt of gratitude he or she owes to those who 
gave them birth ; and though in this Samaja this 
practice has no place and we may not follow the 
outward observances, the sense of filial love and duty, 
which moves thousands of people in all parts of 

116 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the country to show their gratitude for the debt due 
to our ancestors has a significance and a truth 
which we cannot afford to ignore. This is then 
the sixty-third anniversary of the death of a person 
who might well be called one of the fathers of 
the Brahma Church. I say one of the fathers, and 
advisedly. Because I hold, as I have said on many 
other occasions, that we, the members of the Brahma 
Samaja, can claim a long ancestry, as old as any of 
the sects prevailing in the country. The Brahma 
movement was not first brought into existence in 
1828 ; we are representatives of an old race ; as old 
as the Bhagwat Gita and the Bhagwata Purana ; much 
older still ; as old as Narada, Pralhada, and Vasudewa 
,and the nine sages who visited JANAKA. From that 
time there is a continuity of S&dhus and saints down 
to the present day. Raja Rama Mohana Roy, as I 
said, was thus one of the fathers of the Brahma 
Church but he was neither the first nor the last. 
For even in these modern times we have had the 
founder of the Swami Narayana sect, Keshava 
Chandra Sen, $nd Pandit Dayananda Saraswati ; which 
fact shows that the old fire, that animated those 
who have made this land the sacred birthplace of 
many religions and religious movements, has not been 
burnt out. Before, however, I come to speak about 
Raja Rama Mohana Roy's life and teachings, some of 
you will be interested, I believe, if I "draw your 
attention to the fact that while the anniversaries 
celebrated in the case of Gods and birthdays 
in the case of men are allowed to be buried and 

Raja Rama Mohand Roy. 117 

for the most part forgotten, we find that it 
is the anniversaries of the deaths of great men that 
are honoured all over the world. There must be 
some meaning in this custom so universally prevalent 
among Christians, Mahomedans, Parsis, Buddhists, 
and Hindus ; it could not well have been a mere 
accident that, while the Jayanties of gods and 
incarnations are the days of their births, in the case 
of men we celebrate the time when they leave us. 
There is a very good and suffijient reason for this 
difference. No man, till death takes him away from 
the temptations of this world, can say to himself, 
nor can it be said of him by his friends, that 
the man's life's purpose has been accomplished. 
A Greek philosopher was asked a similar question, 
He said, ' wait till that particular man dies before 
you. sing any song about him.' The life that 
we lead here has a serious purpose ; it is to 
be guided by discipline, and discipline is, as 
you know, always a hard master. Out of the 
hundreds of thousands who start in the race of life 
those who reach the goal are but few. Temptations 
lie in the way, and the difficulties that we experience 
disable many of us, and it cannot safely be said till 
a man's death that his life's purpose has been 
accomplished or that his is a life worthy of the 
purpose for which he was sent into this world. That 
is the reason why in the case of men it is the anni- 
versary of death that is commemorated by those who 
remain after him. No man can be called great who 
has not, to the last hour of his life, fulfilled the 

118 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

responsibility which greatness implies ; and this brings 
us to the consideration of the question, what constitutes 
the greatness of the men we love to honour after 
their death. When we celebrate the anniversaries of 
our own ancestors, of our fathers and grandfathers, 
mothers and grandmothers, the question is not whether 
they are great or whether they are not great. To 
every one of us our fathers and mothers are always objects 
of reverence as the ancestors who gave us birth, and 
whatever may be their failings, the mere fact that 
they are persons to whom we owe all that we have, 
constitutes a debt of gratitude which we are bound 
to discharge by celebrating their memories at least 
once a year in a more solemn manner than we 
ijiay be disposed to do on other occasions ; but 
when we make a public commemoration of our great 
men, the question naturally arises : ' What is it that 
constitutes greatness in the sense in which you and 
I and everybody else understand the word ? What 
is it that constitutes this greatness of character ? ' 
There are various views held on this subject. To 
such of you as< are interested in this study I would 
recommend a very careful perusal of some of the 
English authors, especially Carlyle on ( Heroes and 
Hero-worship ' or Emerson on ' Great or Representative 
Men/ These two books will place before you all 
that might be said on this question : ' What is it 
that makes a man great, so that we should be 
anxious to keep green his memory from year to 
year ? ' One view, that is Carlyle's view, is that 
sincerity of purpose and earnestness of conviction 

Raja Rama Mohana Roy. 119 

make a man great. Everyone of us can feel that 
there is a good deal of truth in that observation. 
All of us are more or less acting parts in the theatre 
of this world. Every one of us, be he small or 
great, be he learned or unlearned, each of us has a 
small stage ; on that he struts and strides, moves about 
and goes on, persuading others as he also persuades 
himself that he is not playing a part but that he is 
playing the reality. However, when he is shut up 
in his own chamber, when nobody sees him, then 
you find that every one of us is disposed to wonder 
and to laugh at the way in which he moved in this 
theatre. For the most of us there is no reality about 
it. Sincerity of purpose and earnestness of conviction 
certainly go a long way to make a great man's 
character. If we are wanting in one thing more 
than another it is in this sincerity and earnestness^ 
In the case of great men, that is, men who are 
worthy of being so reckoned, you will find that this 
element of greatness is more or less found in a much 
larger measure than in the ordinary run of men and 
women who constitute human society. We may be 
sincere and earnest on occasions; but habitual 
sincerity of purpose and habitual earnestness of action 
are a gift, a possession, and a treasure that are denied 
to most of us. You may take up the life of any 
man whom the world classes as great; and you will 
find in a large number of such men this trait of 
character. Take the case of Luther. In his time 
there were more learned and even better men than 
himself, such as Erasmus and Melancthon, who were 

120 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

equally gifted and equally endowed. But what was 
wanting in them was the earnestness of conviction and 
sincerity of purpose which were found in Luther. 
We are all of us more or less speaking under 
constraint, moving under constraint ; we know that 
there is no outside control over us, yet we make 
our own constraint ; and we find that full freedom 
of movement is not left to us. That is not exactly 
what constitutes a great man. I will give you 
another instance of this trait of character in great 
men. There was a son of a Mahomedan butcher, aged 
ten or eleven. His father told him to follow his own 
trade. When, however, the knife was given him and 
he was told to use it in the way in which his 
father was using it, he said : ' I am not going to 
use this knife on this poor dumb animal, till I know 
how it feels when applied to the sentient parts . of 
my own body ; till I am satisfied on this head I will 
not use the knife/ And so saying he used the knife 
on his own person first ; and feeling that the pain was 
insufferable, he gave up that trade, he gave up the 
associations in wl^ich he was born, and left the world and 
retired and thus became the great Mahomedan-Hindu 
saint of Maharastra, Shaik Mahomed of Shrigonda. 
That is one of the traits of character which makes a 
man* great. However, it is not mere sincerity and mere 
earnestness that go to make a man great. He must 
be original. He must have imagination which brings 
him into contact with the infinite and the real. 
Such men are called geniuses. Things strike them in 
a way in which they do not strike us. We are so 

Raja Rama Mohana Roy. 121 

familiar with things that we can scarcely realise the 
inner spirit in them ; somehow or other there is an 
obtuseness about us which prevents us from seeing 
things as they are. For instance, there is a story 
told of Dayananda Saraswati as regards the circum- 
stances which led him to leave his home and become 
a. sanyasi. He was, as you know, a great man ; 
there is no denying it, whatever may be our 
differences with him. Among the men of the present 
generation few men can be named alongside with 
him. When a boy he was sent by his father to 
perform worship in a Shaiwa temple during the 
night of a fasting day. The father's command was 
that the boy should sit up all through the night, 
and see that the water -pot which was hanging over 
the god was always filled and that water was 
continuously dripping over it. So the boy of 
ten or twelve went to the place and sat the 
night out. At about midnight he found that he 
was more or less getting sleepy ; he could not 
keep his hand steady and prevent his eyes from 
closing involuntarily ; he tried all manner of means, 
but still he was dozing ; and he found that some of 
those dirty creatures which are always found in 
dark and close temples sat unconcernedly over the 
Linga, and disturbed the flowers. As soon as ' he 
heard the noise, he got up and found that the 
water was falling on the rats instead of over the 
idol. Well, that is a very common experience of 
us all, but it suggested to him a new line of 
thought which made him leave his home. It 

122 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

suggested to him that the dumb mechanical worship 
had no power in it and that the spirit must ap- 
proach the Soul of the world in some other way 
than this. This is only one instance. But it shows 
how great men are original. Originality or imagina- 
tion, like sincerity of purpose, is thus an essential 
trait in human greatness. There is a third element 
again. Not only must a great man occupy a higher 
plane of thought and action but he must have an 
attraction about him. It cannot be called magnetic, or 
any other physical form of attraction, but there is 
such an attraction about him, that it inspires in those 
about him the same spirit which he feels of self-sacrifice 
and public devotion. Any man who stands by himself 
single and whose example and teachings have not 
succeeded in penetrating into the hearts and intelligences 
of other people in such a way tkat these hearts and 
intelligences are bound to become part of him, cannot 
be called a great man. 

Truthfulness, great impulses, moral aims, resource- 
fulness to attain those aims by the bond of love and 
fellowship these t are the traits of character which go 
to make a great man, and those in whom they are 
best developed are the greatest of men. You have 
all read accounts of the life of Buddha. He had such a 
hold upon men's minds that wherever he went hun- 
dreds and thousands followed him as the Great 
Teacher, so that they ensured the permanent success of the 
movements which he inaugurateda most unparalleled 
success in the world's history. Take again the story 
of the prophet Mahomed. A poor illiterate man, he 

Raja Rama Mohana Roy. 123 

did not dream of religion in his youth, and yet at 
forty he goes into retirement, incessantly moves about 
in such a country as Arabia to find that he is 
persecuted and has to fly for life; but there was such 
an attraction among men and women towards him that 
in the course of ten or twenty years he was ablfc 
to dictate terms to the largest and the most powerful 
potentates of the day. Here then you have a general 
idea of what constitutes greatness. Earnestness of 
purpose, sincerity in action, originality, imagination 
and above all the power of magnetism we might 
call it vital or spiritual magnetism these are the 
qualities which go to make a man great. I have 
thus given you my own conception of what a great 
man is. He is not the richest man, nor the most 
intelligent man, nor the most cultivated man, nor the 
most successful man, but a great man is he who, 
whether he be poor or rich, learned or unlearned, in 
the profession or out of the profession, successful in 
life, or unsuccessful in life, the great man is he 
who combines some of those virtues that I have 
just attempted to draw your attentipn to. Having 
said this much we shall turn to see whether 
in Raja Rama Mohana Roy some of these virtues can 
be found in a way to justify our' regard for him 
as one of the greatest men that India has produced 
during the last two centuries and as one of the 
fathers of the Brahma Church movement. His is a 
very simple life. He was born in 1774 and he died in 
1833 ; he thus lived for about sixty years; a time which 
many of us here are now nearing, and some of us 

124 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

have exceeded. He was born a Brahmin, and that 
was one great advantage, if it is fully utilized. 
On his mother's side he belonged to the Shakta sect, 
which is the orthodox sect on the Bengal side. On 
his father's side he came from a family which was 
well-known for its Vaishnavis7n. So the Sh'ikta and 
Vaishnava blood joined together in a sort of mutual 
reconciliation in producing this great man who was 
destined to accomplish work which this union of a 
Vaishnava father with a Shakta mother typified. In 
those old days when schools and colleges did not 
exist, this boy at the age of twelve left his village 
and went to 'Patna to study Arabic and Persian, 
which were then the Court languages. At sixteen he 
went to Benares and there studied Sanskrit for four 


years, not to be a Pandit, but to understand the 
real significance of the old learning. He thus became 
an Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit scholar, without 
knowing a word of English till that age. His 
familiarity with the Arabic and the Sanskrit 
philosophy enabled him at the age of sixteen to 
conceive a dislike to the idolatrous practices which in 
those parts of Bengal have reached an exaggerated form, 
with which most of us here are not familiar. There 
are idolatries and< idolatries. But the Bengal system 
of Kali worship is something of which even we have no 
idea. This was the sort of idolatry which he denounced 
at sixteen. We might well compare notes as 'to what 
we did at sixteen with such a record. Were any 
of us lighted up with the fire that burnt in his 
heart ? His father got vexed with him ; and he 

Raja Rama Mohana Roy. 125 

had to leave his home. He went outside of 
India as far as Thibet and there he became 
practically familiar with the Budhislic system. He 
knew Musulman philosophy, he knew the Sanskrit 
philosophy, and in the four years' time that he 
spent in travelling he became familiar with the 
Budhistic philosophy. After four years' travelling his 
father got reconciled with him and allowed him 
to return home. There at twenty he commenced 
to learn English, completing that study at about 
twenty-five. Till forty he spent his time in the 
service of the English Government. He did not rise 
to any very good position ; but was, I believe, the 
Head Clerk or Shirastedar to the District Judge or 
Collector in several places. At forty he retired from 
the service and for the first time came to Calcutta. 
Till then he had not taken any part in any of 
the public movements. He lived twenty years 
more. From 1814 to 1833, his life was of incessant 
work which far exceeded in measure the labours 
of many hundreds of people like ourselves. He 
was at once a social reformer, the founder of a 
great religious movement and a ' great politician. 
These three activities were combined in him in such 
a way that they put to shame tfye performances of 
the best among us at the present time. Raja Rama 
Mohana Roy's services to the country were not 
confined to any particular department of human 
activity. He waged war against polygamy. He 
first denounced the practice of Satee in 1818 when 
our Presidency of Bombay came under British rule.* 

126 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

From that time to 1828 this crusade was carried on 
continuously for ten years. But not having obtained 
success he went on this same mission to England in 
1830 when he was called to give evidence before a 
Parliamentary Committee that was sitting there. He 
was also entrusted by the Emperor of Delhi with 
some political mission. This crusade against Satee 
represents the most prominent side of his social 
activity. As regards his attempts to revive the pure 
Monotheism of the Upanishad period, it may be 
noted that after coming to Calcutta in 1814, he 
established a rudimentary form of the Brahma Church 
in a spot where people might meet to discuss and 
also pray, and join in prayer. From 1814 to 1828, 
this work was carried on with unflagging enthusiasm, 
arid brisk controversy was kept up not only 
with the orthodox defenders of Hinduism, 
but with the Christian Missionaries. He called 
upon both Christians and Hindus to return 
back to the wisdom of their ancient sages. In the 
two volumes which are published of his life you 
will find that nearly one whole volume is devoted to 
the Raja's publications and pamphlets addressed to 
the Christian missionaries. The rest of the volume 
is devoted to his expositions of the Vedantic and 
Upanishad philosophy. He was reading and writing, 
preaching and protesting, refuting and dis- 
cussing all these twenty years. But while ~ he was 
doing all that, he did not abstain from studying the 
political wants and needs of his time. In those early 
days, when the Charter of the East India Company 

Raja Rama Mohana Roy. 127 

was about to be renewed in 1833, he was called from 
India and he went to England to give most 
useful evidence before that Committee. Unfortunately, 
the climate did not agree with him and he fell a 
sacrifice in his country's cause, among strangers 
in a foreign land, far away from his dear home. 

Here ends a brief exposition of the life of this 
great man. He started the Brahma Samaja movement 
and that Samaja is his living memorial. He made 
efforts for the abolition of the practice of Satee, and 
though he did not live to see the result, the 
Government felt itself compelled by the labours of 
this great man to take measures to stop Satee by 
legislation five years after his death. People here are 
not quite familiar with the enormity of this practice 
of Satee in those days. I know there are some mn 
who still say that it was a wrong step to stop Satee 
or' to abolish it. You will have some idea of the 
enormity of this evil from one of the pamphlets Raja 
Rama Mohana wrote and the petitions he submitted 
to Parliament. In one of those pamphlets figures are 
given for fourteen years, and in the Lower Provinces 
of Bengal alone there were eight thousand cases of 
Satee-burmug during the fourteen years, or an average 
of six hundred per year. There was not a single 
family which had no case of Satee-burning in . the 
last century. These Satee sacrifices were not voluntary; 
but women were pressed to immolate themselves. 
Once a woman said 'yes* in her agony of grief, 
her relations made it impossible for her to change 
her mind. If Government had not stopped it we 

128 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

should have had these horrors repeated before our 
eyes to this day. -If the credit of putting an end to 
these horrors belongs to any man, that credit must be 
given to Raja Rama Mohana Roy. Sa to-burning was 
not the only horror men inflicted on themselves in 
those early days, but men and women used to drown 
themselves, or jump down from lofty precipices into 
the waters below and thus invite death in a hundred 
other forms. If there is credit due to any man 
for having turned the national current in the right 
direction in this matter, that credit is due to Raja 
Rama Mohana. Of his political activities I shall not 
say anything from this platform. Anybody who wants 
to know what true patriotism is, had better study 
the evidence that he gave and the letters he wrote 
td men in power over sixty years ago long before 
our era of Congress meetings and Conferences. 

We shall now turn to the religious movement 
to which he devoted his chief attention. The Atmiya 
Sabha of 1814, was developed in the course of fourteen 
years into the Brahma Samaja, established in 1828. All 
who wish to know what the Brahma Samaja is, not 
merely what it is' reported to be, cannot, I believe, do 
better than read the Trust Deed in which are stated 
by that great man his views about the noble objects and 
aims of the Brahma Samaja movements. The spirituality, 
the deep piety and universal toleration which are 
manifest in every word of this document, represent an 
ideal of beauty iand perfection which has not been 
realized by his successors, >nd it may yet take many 
centuries before its full significance is understood by our 

Raja Rama Mohana Roy. 

people. The future destiny of the Brahma Samaja 
is concealed in the womb of time. We cannot 
say it may not fail. We hope it will succeed. 
But what its founder intended it to be is not a 
question which we can afford to dispute. I 
shall tell you what he intended it to be, and request 
both those who belong to the Samaja, and those who 
are outside its pale, to consider whether his conception 
of it was not as noble as any which the highest 
among us and in other lands have ever been able 
to form. What Raja Rama Mohana felt was 
that we had in India a nation, gifted with a 
religious history transcending all the records of every 
other race. Here was a nation, which was gifted, 
was well endowed, was spiritual in all its real 
aspirations. This nation had gradually ascended ta 
the conception of the purest form of Monotheism 
that the world has yet seen. In the Upanishads and 
in the Bhagwal Giia it had developednot by a 
mere impulse, not by the command of any single 
prophet, but by the slow process of growth and 
evolution a system of the purest form of Monotheism 
that man can conceive. The higher thought of the 
nation had learned to place its trust in a Universal 
Spirit, the One without a second, in ^ whom all lived 
and moved and had their being, who was the Cause 
of all, the Lord of all, the Friend of all, the Guide 
of all, the most fatherly of fathers, and most the 
motherly of mothers. One age after another con- 
structed the edifice, laying brick upon brick and 
layer upon layer, and story after story rose. 

130 Essays on Religions and Social Reform 

Well, this highest conception was not only 
confined to Pandits, Philosophers and Shastris, but 
it was the common property of every class, the 
very lowest of the low, men who were socially 
not much respected nor very respectable, the poor 
villager, the hunter, the gardener, the fisherman, the 
weaver, the goldsmith, the barber, the shopkeeper 
they all shared this common faith equally with the 
Brahmins, the Pandits, and the Yogis. 

While Raja Rama Mohana was struck with this 
universal prevalence of the monotheistic principle, 
he was deeply pained at the thought that this 
exalted faith was turned to no practical account, 
because it was associated with external observances 
and rites which were in entire discord with it. 
These external rites and observances made the 
nation worship all manner of gods and goddesses, 
elemental, mythological, tribal and local divinities, 
with the most grotesque features and the worst 
inhuman associations. This polytheism had also 
grown side by side with the higher teaching of the 
Upanishads, that God was One without a second, 
and of the Bfiagwat Gita that He alone was to be 
worshipped. This contrast between the monotheistic 
spirit and the polytheistic observances strikes every 
student of our religious life as a puzzle which baffles 
the understanding. You can well imagine how it 
must have struck a great soul like that of the Raja 
who from his very boyhood had been brought up 
an iconoclast and waged war with idolatry of all 
kinds. He brooded and thought over it, and he 

Raja Rama Mohana Roy. 131 

worked, and suffered for it in a way of which we 
have no conception. The question that he put to 
himself was, how does it come to pass that Mono- 
latry does not go hand in hand with Monotheism 
in India, when in other countries where the mono- 
theistic principle is less exclusively professed, mono- 
latry has been for two thousand years and more the 
prevailing practice ? This is the question I request 
you to consider each for himself. I offer no solu- 
tion of it myself to-day ; because though I have been 
thinking about it for a long time I have not yet 
been able to find a rational and consistent solution 
of the difficulty. The question, you will recollect, is 
not of idolatry or non-idolatry. That difference re- 
lates to the method of devotion and not to the 
object of worship. The difference to which I have 
dra^vn your attention has a deeper source and re- 
quites our most anxious consideration. In most cases 
idolatry is only a consequence of this practical poly- 
theism which prevails in the land and which leads 
men against the teachings of their own higher reason 
to think that one Supreme Will does not govern all 
the operations of nature, but that many gods and 
goddesses, good and bad deities, or devatas, are permit- 
ted to influence the operations of nature and the well- 
being of man in a hundred different ways, and it is 
these subordinate powers which must be propitiated 
each in its own way and on its own day. It is this cease- 
less distraction of the mind between the devotion to 
the One Supreme Lord of all and the claims of the 
multiple small agents of good and bad influences which 

132 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

is the real evil. There is image worship among the 
Roman Catholics and there is saint worship and 
Pz>-worship among Christians and Mahomedans, but on 
the whole they do not detract from the monolatrous 
character of the devotions of these people. With us 
this limit has been overstepped with the consequent 
debasement that we see all about us. Rama Mohana 
Roy naturally felt pained at this modern debasement, 
and with a view to bring into accord our practical 
devotions w r ith our monotheistic faith, he gathered 
together kindred souls who felt with him on this point 
and established the Brahma Samaja. He did not regard 
the Brahma Samaja faith as a new Dispensation, 
or a new declaration of God's purposes. He aspired only 
to establish harmony between men's accepted faith 
and their practical observances by a strict mono- 
latrous worship of the One Supreme Soul, a worship 
of the heart and not of the hands, a sacrifice of 
self and not of the possessions of the self. There 
was nothing foreign in its conception, origin, or 
method. He wanted men and women to cherish their 
own ancient treasures of faith and to secure their 
freedom from the bondage of superstition and igno- 
rance. This was the work which the Brahma Samaja 
was intended to carry out. It is not for me to say 
how far that promise has been fulfilled. If it has not 
been fulfilled, the blame is not his but ours. To us 
the same problem presents itself to-day, as it did to 
him early in the century. And it is a problem on 
the right solution ot which our destiny nere and here- 
after greatly depends. In connection with this anniver- 

Raja Rama Mohana Roy. 138 

sary I beseech you to take this great lesson to 
heart and try to work out its solution in such a way 
that the integrity of your soul may be restored. 
When this correspondence between the head and the 
heart, this concord between the flesh and the spirit 
is established, Indian monotheism will be a great 
power in the land, uniting 250 millions of men and 
women in a bond which shall be indissoluble. The 
historical differences of national creeds will continue 
to exist like the different styles of architecture. The 
Christian church will not look in outward appearance 
like a Mahomedan mosque or an Aryan temple, but 
the differences of style and form will not interfere 
with the spiritual unity of purpose. When this is 
accomplished, another great idea, the union of all re- 
ligions, which Raja Rama Mohana Roy cherished deeply 
in bis heart, will be realised, and with it people in 
all lands will say with one voice 'Thy Kingdom 
has come and Heaven has descended on Earth.' 

Since this address was first delivered there are 
evident signs of the awakening of thoughtful minds 
in all countries to the necessity of securing the 
co-operation of all nations towards this great end. 
And the best evidence of it was furnished by the 
great Parliament of Religions held at Chicago in 
connection with the great Columbian exposition, the 
smaller Unions among Christians themselves held at 
New York, U. S. A. and Paris, France, this year. 
The great World's Temperance Union is a similar 
sign of the times. We may note also the fact that 
the missionaries from this country have been actively 

134 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

working both in America and in Europe to familiarise 
the people in those parts with the higher spiri- 
tualism of our ancient land. Also the Theosophical 
movement, which represents men who profess all the 
known religions and yet feel that they can co-operate 
together in this common elevation. All these indica- 
tions may be regarded as the early dawn, which will 
before long usher in, in full blaze, the Sun of 
Righteousness and Glory which will unite all 
nations in a common brotherhood. 



YOU are aware of the nature of the business 
which has brought us together in this place 
on the present occasion. It is a function 
of a friendly and social commemoration, and must 
be. undertaken by every one of us in the spirit 
which suits the occasion. A meeting like this 
ought to have been held earlier, and it was arranged 
accordingly ; but owing to unforeseen engagements 
of the most pressing character, the managers of 
the Club had to put it off to a more convenient 
day. Death, as you all know, has been of late 
so very busy among us that, notwithstanding the 
absorbing distractions of our every-day life of toil 
and enforced rest, our minds are in a more serious 
mood attracted naturally towards those who have 
been gathered to our forefathers some of them -pre- 
maturely, long before their mission in this life had 
been accomplished. Our minds are, as each fresh loss 
comes upon us, with its sudden surprise, distracted 

136 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

with grief for a moment ; but such is the providen- 
tial gift of our elastic temperament, that we soon 
recover our usual equanimity, and seem apparently to 
forget the past. It is not, however, always the case. 
There are times and there are seasons when even 
in these absorbing distractions, our thoughts are 
turned from the present day engagements to converse 
in spirit and solitude with those with whom we 
worked in various fields during our past lives, 
and whose company we now miss in the great res- 
ponsibilities that come upon us as each day rolls on 
and makes room for its successor. It is not, there- 
fore, without reason that our wise ancestors ordained 
it as a part of our religious duty that once at least 
in the course of the year there should be a fortnight 
set apart for these commemorations, so that each 
one in his own small sphere, and all of us 
in our collective sphere, may take stock of the 
fact that our present existence here is an existence 
limited by conditions over which we have no control, 
and that unless we teach ourselves to regard it only 
as the place for fitting and preparing ourselves for a 
better existence, we fail to understand the mission of 
the life with which we are so mucft absorbed. Last 
month was the month in which these commemorations 
were held throughout the country, in domestic circles 
and more at large in high places, where- the claims 
of. the dead commanded a larger circle of mourners. 
These commemorations remind us of our duties to 
those who have left this troubled life of ours, and 
it is to some extent with a similar object in view 

The Telang School of Thought. 137 

that the members of this Club have felt it to be 
their duty, which they had long put off for various 
reasons, to meet together in this place, and to com- 
memorate in a proper spirit the loss which the Club has 
sustained in the death of its late President, Mr. Justice 
K. T. Telang. Five years and more have now elapsed 
since that eventful departure from our midst took., place 
of one whom we all knew so well, and loved so dearly. 
It was thought by the members of this Club that 
this long period of time should be allowed to elapse, 
for in the excess of our present grief we might be 
tempted to put too high a value upon the loss that 
we had suffered, and that it was far better to wait 
and see if, like many of our other sorrows, these 
five years of separation might not reconcile us to 
the loss that we had suffered and make us forget it, 
as ,we do forget man}'- other afflictions that trouble 
our existence here. Five years have passed, and yet 
every one of us, 1 believe every one who is in this 
hall, and many hundreds who may not be here to- 
day, w r ill admit with me that these five years have 
not reconciled us to the loss, and made us forget 
the estimation in which we held the late President 
of this Club during his short but brilliant career. It 
was on this account that the members of this 
Club thought that the time had now come when 
we could discharge this duty without being exposed 
to the charge that we made too much of otir loss. 

Of course, on such occasions, when we meet here 
for such a solemn purpose as this, memories rise 
before the mind's eyes of many familiar faces, and 

138 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the shades of the dead flit before our vision with a 
reality which is almost as vivid as life itself. Not 
to recall to your memory the great men of the past 
generation, about whom many of you have no personal 
knowledge, but whose works we read and admire 
not to go so far back as that period, and confining 
ourselves only to the past five or six years, the 
memory of which is so fresh with us, our hearts 
and our recollections are drawn to many familiar 
faces whom we miss now as the miser misses his 
wealth, or the mother her lost child. We miss, for 
instance, the sturdy features of Mr. K. L. Nulkar, 
than whom a more sustained worker in all the 
higher activities of our life, a more earnest 
sympathiser in all that was good, did not breathe in 
this part of India. Another loss we feel is that 
of my friend Mr. S. P. Pandit, whose cast of 
features indicated an unbending will, coupled with a 
tenacity of purpose and undaunted courage peculiarly 
his own. His was a life, though short, of great 
and continuous struggles and noble achievements 
on behalf of posterity. We further miss the familiar 
face of Dr. Atmaram Pandurang who during three- 
score years and ten took the lead in our Society, 
in all good works of benevolence and charity. I 
prize him more not on account of his ministering to our 
bodily maladies, but on account of his ministering to 
our spiritual longings. His loss is still so fresh, and 
the debt we owe him has been so badly discharged 
by us that I do not feel myself at present disposed 
to iay more about him. We miss again the face of 

The Telang School of Thought. 139 

Mr. W. A. Modak, the great educationist, and a 
man whose life was an example to us in all things 
good, a man who applied himself devoutly to every 
secular duty. We miss him as his shade passes 
before our vision with a poignancy of grief that I 
at least cannot describe in words. We miss our 
Political Rishi, Mr. N. M. Parmanand, confined 
to his bed for ten years and more of one 
continuous suffering, and yet a friend from whom 
we never heard a word of complaint or of 
sorrow. In matters of religious, social or political 
elevation a purer life and a purer soul never 
lived with us and never worked with us till 
the last breath left him. Another gap is that 
left by my friend Mr. Javerilal U. Yajnik. 'A 
soul formed in a higher mould, a soul above vanity, 
and in its capacities equal to all that we expect in 
our great men, joined with humility and resignation that 
was unequalled by any who lived before him or 
who might come after him. We miss Mr. V. 
N. Bhagwat, a silent worker in the higher fields. 
I know his charity was a silent charity. It was 
a charity which he loved to hide from all his 
most intimate friends, a man whose independence of 
character was never sullied by any blemish of 
irreverence or faultfinding. 

We miss all these and many more. It would 
be too long a list tor me on an occasion like this 
to recall to your minds all the shadows flitting before 
our eyes, some more clearly perceptible than others, 
and we miss above all our friend, for the commemoration ' 

140 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

of whose death we have met more especially on 
this occasion here. Our friend Mr. Telang was not 
a man whose reputation was confined to this city or 
this Presidency. He was India's representative, the type, 
I may say, of New India. Had it not been that 
the cruel hand of death took him away from us 
all top soon, there was every promise that year after 
year the rose that had blossomed with such beauty 
and with such fragrance in our midst, would have filled 
the whole country with its sweet scent. His simplicity 
of life was exemplary, his sympathies were always 
foremost in the support of everything that was good 
and true. Noble in mind himself, contact and converse 
with him made every one, even a stranger who 
visited him for the first time, discover in the man 
the nobility of character which only those that have 
this magnetic power developed in them by the gift 
of nature can realize. His countenance is before you 
all ; no photograph can ever portray his features, that 
calm life which I believe we all realize, though it is 
not possible to describe it. The intellectual cast of 
that countenance was of a character which I had the 
privilege to mark in its very first stages. Some five 
and thirty years ago it was that I noticed in the 
young man who then attended the college, there was 
a power and force concealed which would carry him 
up to the very highest stages of our. social and 
political life. There were lines in that countenance 
which marked him out as an intellectual giant before 
whom all our modest performances would look as if 
we were only trying to follow him, but could never 

The Tclang School oj Thought. 141 

get up to him. Those who heard him speak there 
must be thousands here will remember his silver 
voice, his persuasive and earnest eloquence ; it was all 
one sweet flow of reason. Those who heard him 
speak will remember him not as an orator who could 
thunder, but as one who gave light, heat, motion, 
and hope to the masses about him in a way to,, make 
them feel that they had profited by listening 
to him, even for a short space of time. Such was 
the man as he was seen and as he was heard, but 
when we went beyond the spheres of sight and 
hearing, and when we met the man in converse, 
when we saw him at work in his own house, or 
when we saw him as he was engaged in his 
multifarious duties, our estimation of him which might 
have been formed by hearing him or seeing him 
developed into a love which we liked to cherish 
as a privilege. Our intimacy with him grew 
day by day and inch by inch into a privilege of 
citizenship which under no circumstances we would 
be induced to forego. Never out of temper himself, 
he always put other people into their best temper, 
always thinking that there was something in every- 
body else which deserved his admiration. As a scholar, 
as a speaker, as a politician, as a .judge, as a mem- 
ber of our political and official bodies, his services are 
on record. Though his friends have not done their 
duty by him in letting his life remain unwritten, and 
in allowing the reminiscences of his life to be still 
gathered from the remarks made here and there, that 
work has been undertaken by an English friend far 

142 Essays on Religious and Social Rejorm. 

away separated from India, and by a Parsee gentle- 
man who, however, has not been able to understand 
him and ins life property. I can imagine one reason 
why it has been found impossible by some intimate 
friends of his to do full justice to the man. Their 
excess of love for him made it impossible for them 
to put their thoughts in writing in such a way as 
to do adequate justice to the great excellences of his 

To those who may think that the claims of future 
existence have no regard for us, and that all that 
we need care about is our present existence, and that 
after death there is an end of all things to us, an 
end that can never be recalled to them, there is no 
hope and no joy in store. But most of us cherish 
the faith in a future existence for the soul where 
opportunities, denied here, are given to us in abun- 
dance ; where our powers are still further developed, 
and where our foibles, if any, are corrected, our 
temper is strengthened, and our virtues are enlarged. 
This is the belief of Mr. Telang's friends ; and it is 
this belief of theirs that gives them consolation, and 
partly reconciles 'them to the loss they have suffered 
in the departure of so many of our great and good 
men. What converse shall we hold with these 
spirits, who are hovering over our heads in and 
about this place ? What shall ' we converse with 
them ? Certainly not of our petty disappointments 
and sorrows ; not of the many toils and trials that 
we have to suffer. What shall we converse about 
with souls like these ? Everyone has to fix in his 

The Telang School of Thought. 143 

own mind what he shall converse about. They all 
have a family likeness which distinguishes them from 
many of our other friends who have gone either 
before them or after them, to the existence from 
which there is said to be no return. 

And while you are contemplating in your own 
minds what converse you should hold with these 
spirits, I shall suggest to you the particular features 
of this likeness. What are these features of family 
likeness which distinguish those whose memory I have 
brought to your recollection ? Some of you may 
think that there is no family likeness ; that there 
are no common features in the great and good work 
done by these men, which would justify my calling 
them a school ; and still 1 want to show to you, if 
I am permitted to do so, that they do form a 
school. In the absence of a better name I may call 
that school, as representing all its best characteris- 
ticsI may call it the Telang School of Thought 
and action. Shall we make ourselves worthy 
to be the followers of this school in our present 
existence, either as teachers or disciples ? For teacher 
and disciple are alike in the same condition in respect 
of this high spiritual converse. Teaching is learning 
in such matters ; teaching is discipline ; learning is 
discipline again. What then are these common fea- 
tures which bring all these great and good men 
together in our estimation ? What makes all these 
great men and good people rise together before our 
minds as if they were members of one family ; as 
if they were members of one society ; as if they 

144 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

were incLibers of an association with common pur- 
poses and objects ? Such of you as knew these 
persons intimately need hardly to be reminded of 
the particular and salient features of this school. I 
do not deny that there are other schools with dis- 
tinguishing features ; I should be the last person to 
deny that. Though my love for this school grows 
higher every day, still I should be the last person 
to deny that there are other schools, and possibly 
the members of those schools might have equal right 
to assert their own superiority. But on this occasion we 
have been invited as the members of this Club of 
which Mr. Telang, though not the founder, was a 
most distinguished leader. We meet here to store 
up in our minds in this commemoration all the 
lessons with which his life, his teachings, his actions, 
and his sufferings are so fraught ; we shall carry those 
lessons by way of discipline and by way of en- 
couragement to us all. 

The first common feature is that they were all 
hopeful men. You may perhaps not understand me 
when I say that this privilege of hopefulness is one 
which may disentitle themselves from claiming a 
share in ; some of you may not be able to see what 
grounds for hopefulness can exist in our present 
abasement when the whole world is pointing the 
finger of scorn at us. And yet it is a fyct that 
they werp all hopeful. If any one wishes to become 
a member of this Telang school of thought and hold 
converse with these great teachers of this school, he 
must first learn the lesson that hopefulness is the 

The Telang School of Thought. 145 

badge of the school. We should be unwortny of 
ourselves if we are not hopeful with our traditions 
which transcend the tradition of every other nation 
of the world. You may take the map of Asia, 
Europe, Africa, or America, and you will find that 
there is no other country in the world which pre- 
sents such a continuity of existence over such a- Jong 
period of time. Races and creeds have risen, thrived, 
and decayed in other lands, but India is favoured 
that notwithstanding its abasement in many other 
particulars, the people of this country have been 
preserved from dangers, as though they were a 
people with a special mission entrusted to them. 
We, of the present, or those of our ancestors of the 
immediate past, may not be worthy to bear the standard 
of that mission, but still there is the fact that we 
represent a continuity of creed, of traditions, of liter- 
ature, of philosophy, of modes of life and forms of 
thought, which are peculiar to this land, and which 
have been carried to other countries by our illus- 
trious ancestors in the past from this land, What is 
there in this circumstance, you may ask, that we 
should feel hopeful on this account. It cannot surely 
be for nothing that this particular favour has been 
shown to us under providential guidance. If the 
miraculous preservation of a few thousand Jews had 
a purpose; this more miraculous preservation of one- 
fifth of the human race is not due to mere 'chance* 
We are under the severe discipline of a high Purpose. 
This is one ground of the hopefulness which has 
been the characteristic feature of this school. They 

146 \Essays on Religious and Social ejorm. 


were hopeful men, they felt proud of the past, and 
they were hopeful of the future. They were hopeful 
that if they lived under this discipline, they might 
in time be fitted to take their proper place in 

What is the nature of this discipline which 
unites our dislocated races together and makes us 
one in aspiration and thought ? All the creeds and 
civilizations are gathered in this land; all the 
spiritual forms and beliefs are here ; all social and 
political experiments are being tried on a large scale ; 
and this is the only land where you will find all 
these creeds represented by hundreds and thousands, 
and millions, living peaceably together and partaking 
pf the charities, learning, and excellence of each in a 
spirit of toleration for all which you will nowhere find 
on the broad face of this earth. This is a discipline 
which has not been vouchsafed to any other country 
in the world. The Jews were punished in Egypt; 
they were taken captive to Persia and were brought 
back and restored to their promised land, and finally 
again scattered, to the four corners of the world. 
We also have been punished for our wrong-doings, 
and still the providential discipline keeps its hold 
upon us, but we have not been scattered to the 
winds. We are slowly being prepared by discipline 
and trained to be what we were certainly intended 
to be fulfillers of the mission which has still not 
been fully acomplished. Our great ancestors accomp- 
lished it in part, their successors failed to accomplish 
it and suffered the reverses that we are now labour- 

The Telang School of Thought. 147 

ing under, and we feel hopeful that this work has 
come to our hands, and we are being trained to 
undertake it in a proper spirit. If we can take away 
with us this source of strength from this commemo- 
ration, then we shall have taken the first steps in 
the lessons which are taught in this school. 

You will recognize that this sturdy hopefulness 
is the golden mean between stolid indifference to 
change and the sanguineness of temper which desires 
to accomplish the work of centuries in as many 
decades, and the work of decades in as many years, 
and the work of years in as many days. The stolid 
indifference to change represents the decrepitude of 
old age, and the sanguineness of temper represents 
the difference between the child and the man. Many 
of us are still in that state of mind when every 
little success elates us and every little depression 
dejects us. Give them a little start in life, and they 
feel as if they have mastered the whole situation ; a 
little piece of good fortune happens to them, and 
they feel that they are the luckiest men in the 
world. People who have got this spirit of sanguine- 
ness developed in them are, I say, clearly to be 
distinguished from those who, while they feel hopeful 
of the final result, are still weighed* down with the 
thought that they have to undergo a long discipline, 
and have no heart for boisterous displays or ^dreams 
of mock revivals of past glory. The results are 
to be achieved in ourselves and not by change of 
extraneous circumstances. And these results are to 
be achieved, and change has to be brought about 

148 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

in a wa> which it would be difficult to anticipate 
at present, but such change must come if we aspire 
to fulfil that mission which has been left half- 
accomplished. We know that we should not be 
over-sanguine in such matters. 

Our difficulties are really not outside us but 
inside us, the difficulties are in us, in our inertia, in 
our weakness, in our physical inability to sustain 
hard work, in our inaptitude to work long for great 
results by great toil. These are our difficulties ; old 
habits are to be changed ; we have by long centuries 
of debasement learnt to be like little children who 
are disappointed on being deprived of a toy, or like 
old men we are irritable and querulous. We should 
learn to be men, stalwart puritan men, battling for 
the right, not indifferent nor sanguine, trustful but 
not elated, serious but not dejected. That is . the 
change in character which has to be accomplished. 

One word of caution is necessary here. It is not 
the immediate past of which we are to feel proud, 
but of the past of our great ancestors in whose time 
our philosophies were developed, our literature and 
sciences grew up, and our people went to foreign 
lands, far off to Java, to the East, and far away 
beyond Mongolia to the North. About these times 
we ought to have intense reverence. The more 
immediate past has brought us to our present position 
and stranded us into the difficulties in which we find 
ourselves. We are creatures of that more immediate 
past, we are suffering the penalty of our weakness, 
hesitation and self-seeking and mutual jealousies. That 

The Telang School of Thought. 149 

immediate past has landed us into our debasement. 
There have been periods even in that imnrediate past 
about which we may be all as legitimately proud as 
of the days of our great ancestors. There have been 
lights blazing on the mountain tops which shone with 
a brilliancy as great as of the Rishis in the olden 
days. These lights have, however, been extinguished. 
They were so few and far between, and the work to 
be accomplished was so great that lights failed and 
we are to some extent involved in our own darkness ; 
and that veil has to be lifted, and nobody can lift 
it unless we welcome the light ourselves. Vast 
agencies are set in motion, by the guiding hand whose 
kindness it is our privilege to recognise at every step, 
but it is a work which takes years and years, and 
centuries after centuries before it can be fully accomplished. 
t Now these are some of the distinguishing features 
of this school. What else is there to be said about 
the common family features of this group of great 
and good men that we have called to converse with 
us ? There is this further common feature that they 
all agreed in holding that the work to be accomplished 
is not one-sided work. The liberation that has to be 
sought is not in one department of life, or one sort of 
activity, or in one sphere of thought, but it is an all- 
round work in which you cannot dissociate one 
activity from another. Take the improvement of our 
physique alone. To do that you may taks many 
decades, you may take centuries. The great falling- 
off that has taken place during many centuries as the 
result of false ideals of life, evil habits, and bad 

150 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

institution^ can only be counteracted by persistent 
efforts to combat the mischief. 

But besides physical development the other duties 
that have to be performed are of even still more 
peremptory characters. And what are they ? They 
are the improvement of the social surroundings about us. 
The very air in which we live and move and breathe has 
to be purified. These environments have to be in a 
sense re-ordered in a way that would help not merely 
our physical growth, but also our intellectual and 
moral growth. That was the idea in the mind of 
our friend, the Political Rishi. Those who knew 
him, lying as he had been in bed in sorrow and 
suffering for ten or twelve years, knew that if there 
was anything which preyed on the mind of that 
man it was not the pain that he suffered though 
that pain was excruciating but it was this thought, 
that some of us were attaching too much of importance 
to one form of evil and paid little attention to the 
other forms. There was the work of religious 
regeneration to be attended to. Not that we need 
go to a foreign country and borrow our faith from 
foreign masters. ' Spiritual life was developed into the 
highest perfection, not merely in the writings, but in 
the actual existence of great men who flourished in 
the past. We have to revive that life in us ; we 
have not to set up a particular doctrine which 
separated one friend from another, and one church 
from another. Too much importance is attached to 
that. We have preserved the outward forms and 
symbols while the spirit has evaporated the spirit 

The Telang School of Thought, 151 

which teaches us to do justice between man /and man, 
and between man and woman too, and high aiyfl low alike. 

While we developed new forms of thought in 
philosophy, we circumvented ourselves with new 
temptations, and we are now in a fix, being able 
neither to move out, nor move with the mass, and 
yet the social emancipation, or if you want to call 
it by any other name, religious or social revival if 
you please is a task that has to be accomplished. 

Next there is the economical and industrial 
movement. Our industries are in the same condition 
in which they were when man first entered on the 
agricultural stage. Millions of people are working 
and toiling all the year round in a most desultory 
fashion, managing to eke out their living in some 
form or other. Labour is unskilful, capital is scarce 
and without organization, our material resources either 
not utilized or undeveloped. It is difficult to accomplish 
a revolution like that unaided. But Providence has 
placed us in a most favourable state to secure the 
development of this side of human character in its 
best form. We have been put to school under the 
best living captains of industry and organisation. 

We have, lastly, to learn to take interest in the 
political well-being of our people, and, though it is 
thought to be a very easy lesson to learn, it is one 
which is most difficult to accomplish, unless ordinated 
with it we secure the regular development of other 
useful activity in us. 

You may frame a system, you may fashion a 
machine, you may build a house, but you cannot 

152 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

manufacture men in the way in which you can 
manufacture dead machines. You must have men to deal 
with this system, to live in this house, and to work 
this machine. There are other schools in this country 
proclaiming a dozen other missions. But the great 
characteristic feature of what I have called the Telang 
school is that you cannot develop the chest without 
deve!6ping your other organs ; you cannot starve 
yourselves and yet desire that your muscles shall 
grow and your nerves have the same elasticity 
as before. There is an interdependence between the 
parts, so that it is not possible to do justice to one 
without doing justice to the other also. This I 
believe to be a very difficult lesson to learn, and yet 
every one of those men that I have named, every 
one of them lived and died in a steadfast faith in 
this great doctrine. I may bring to your recollection 
the work done by our friend, whose death we have 
met here specially to commemorate. He was, as 
you know, a writer, a social and economical refor- 
mer, and he was the most active worker in the 
political field. He was a man who was a great 
scholar ; not a scholar in the old sense of the word 
only ; but a scholar both in the old and new sense 
of the word. He f was a scholar whom the Pandits 
of the West and the Pandits of the East had learnt 
to revere, and learnt to understand. He combined 
all thes v activities in himself, and he was trying to 
give a helping hand to all in other fields when he 
could not himself work. In such matters as these 
people think that they cannot help one another. I 

The Telang School of Thought. 153 

should be the last person to entertain an idea like 
that. The strongest among us has sometimes his 
moments of weakness. A man who does not get the 
support of his friends at such times feels that 
he is left alone ^and sinks occasionally and sins badly. 
We are for a moment led to believe that we cannot 
make use of greater opportunities without running 
greater risks. This is one of the mistakes which the 
weakness of human nature always entails upon the 
strongest of our men. It should be our duty to try 
and remedy this weakness and to see that such a 
mistake may not occur. When you find that you 
have made a mistake you must not try to hide it 
or defend it, but you should seek help, and try to 
see that it does not occur again. That is the lesson 
that we have to learn from true hopefulness ; that 
hopefulness is based on the belief that there is a 
mission assigned to us ; that mission is not assigned 
by any one among us, but assigned by one who 
alone has the power to assign the mission. And that 
belief is based on a sure foundation, not on the foun- 
dation of our common sense, or our powers and our 
capacity. But it is a religious beHef that there is 
this sort of guidance given to us, only on one con- 
dition, that we fully realize that >ve have to work 
our own liberation and our own betterment, and 
that betterment not in one field or in one direction. 
Our muscles and sinews have to be hardened ; our 
hearts have to be humanized to the sense of justice 
in all directions ; and our intellect to be freed from 
prejudice and prepossessions ; freed from the beliefs of 

154 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

superstitions which have been long dominating over 
us. This & a work of a very difficult character, and 
yet each one of us, unless he puts his hand to the 
wheel, can never help himself to obtain success in his 
own emancipation. I said that there are other features 
relating to this particular question which I cannot 
describe at present. I have thought about them, but 
I do c not at present feel that I can do justice to 
them. I am quite sure that many of you here had 
the privilege of longer intimacy with the friend I 
have now brought to your recollection, whose memory 
we have come here to commemorate. The teachings 
of the Telang school are seen in the life and writings 
of the men whose family likeness I have brought to 
your recollection on this occasion. We have a 
duty to discharge ; we all owe a debt of duty, not 
of course in feeding them with things which they do 
not want, but to feel for a moment that you are 
not of this world, that you are in some better ex- 
istence than in this world, and that your soul con- 
verses with their souls in the other existence in order 
to throw off its bondage. This is an object to the 
accomplishment f which occasions like this should be 
utilized. I hope you will be able to do that work. 
I trust that this t Club, in which Mr. Telang took so 
much interest, and a Club in which, I fear, there is 
something wanting to make it clubbable, will prosper, 
and th?t occasions which bring us together will 
multiply and make us feel the want of Club life, 
till we raise this Club to the position occupied by 
the Clubs of the other communities in this city. 

The Telang School of Thought. 155 

A Club without common feelings may be said to be 
a rope of sand. Every one of you ^ias got a 
function to perform in this connection. The common 
feature of Club life is co-operation and association. 
I believe I am not far wrong when I say that 
the few principles which I have tried to place before 
you now find response in your hearts, and there are 
many more to which your attention may hereafter be 
directed. In the meanwhile there is no reason 
why we may not join in common fellowship which 
is likely to be productive of such good results. 

Address delivered at the ' Hindu Union Club,' Bombay, in 1895. 


THIS time last year, when we met in the 
metropolis of India, I ventured to say that 
the gathering of the Conference was held 
under the shadow of a great calamity. Few 
of us then fully realized the accumulation of 
mOseries and sorrows which this unhappy year now 
about to close had in store for us. The shadows 
darkened and deepened in their horrors as the year 
advanced, and it almost seemed as if the seven 
plagues which afflicted the land of the Pharaohs in 
old times were let loose upon us, for there is not 
a single province which had not its ghastly record of 
death and ruin to mark this period as the most 
calamitous year of the century within the memory of 
many generations, past. No province has suffered 
more from these dire visitations than the Presidency 
of Bombay, and we are still carrying the yoke of this 
hard discipline of sorrows with a patience, and I 
might add, courage, which baffle all description. The 
fight has been very unequal, and we have been 

* Address delivered at the I. N. S. Conference, Amraoti, 1897. 

Revival and Reform. 157 

worsted at every point, our activities have been 
paralysed, and our losses great beyond .all previous 
anticipations. Speaking on an occasion like this, I 
cannot but give expression to the grief which presses 
heavy on our hearts, as we remember the faces* 
once so familiar in these Conference gatherings, 
conspicuous by their absence here to-day soldiers of 
God in the great fight with evil, who have been 
taken away from us in the full bloom of their 
manhood, and whose place we can never hope 
adequately to fill up. One such earnest soul, the 
late Rao Bahadur Chintaman Narayen Bhat, was the 
life and light of this movement. I had fondly 
hoped that it would be my privilege to hand over 
to him the charge of this great service, for which 
the many great and good qualities of his head ahd 
he^rt fitted him so well. But this was not to be, 
and we have now to console ourselves with the 
mournful satisfaction that he died a martyr to his self- 
imposed labour of love and charity. In another 
place I have described our sense of the loss suffered 
by us in the death of another veteran in the 
fight the universally lamented Mh V. A. Modak. 
Though disabled for a time for active work, his 
soul was ever alive to the call of duty for which 
he lived and died. Friends who knew Mr. Gokuldas 
Leula of Sind have paid a similar tribute of their 
sorrow to the memory of this sincere wetter, who 
died a victim to the plague, while administering relief 
to those who suffered from its ravages. A tribute of 
respect is also due to the memory of Mr. Kashinath Pant 

158 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

Natu of Poona, and Mr. Vaman Daji Oka, well 
known in \ these parts the Central Provinces and 
Berars. I might recall to your mind the names 
of many more whom it has pleased Providence 
to take away from us, but this is hardly necessary 
to convince you that the year's casualties in our 
ranks ,- have been very heavy. When people in 
their impatience complain that our friends here 
and elsewhere are only glib talkers, and fail badly 
when they are called on to act, they seem to forget 
the most prominent feature of our experience of 
these great visitations namely, that in every town 
and city, where distress in any form prevailed, 
whether it was due to famine, plague, or earthquake, 
or floods or hurricane, the members of the various 
Reform Associations and their sympathisers have 
always been the first to volunteer their help, and 
if they have lost heavily, this loss is due to the 
perseverance with which they maintained the fight. 
We, who have been spared till now, may well pay 
this tribute of respect to their * memories on an 
occasion like this, when we meet together to 
reckon our gains and losses for the year. 

As might be expected, the reports of this year's 
work which havte been received from nearly sixty 
Associations, large and small, and which have been 
summarized up to date, complain that their work for 
the yea r / has not been as successful as in the previous 
two years. And yet to those who can read between 
the lines, there are manifest signs which show that 
the work has been as earnestly pursued as ever. To 

Revival and Reform. 159 

instance a few cases : Under the head of Female 
Education, the Bethime College of Calcutta, the Girls, 
High Schools at Poona and Ahmedabad, the Kanya 
Maha Vidyalaya at Jallunder, the Sing Sabha's Girls' 
School at Lahore, the Maharani's Girls' School at 
Mysore, the Mahakali Pathashala organized by Mataji 
Tapasvini Bai, a Mahratta lady in Calcutta, a^d the 
Sylhet and Mymensing Unions, all show a record of 
progress, each in its own line of development. 
There is not a single Reform Association of any 
position in the country which has not lent its best 
efforts to raise the standard and popularize the system 
of Female Education. Many Associations, Sabhas, and 
Samajas maintain independent girls' schools of their 
own, and others have their home classes more or 
less actively employed in carrying on the work ot 
the, schools to educate the more advanced students. 
Others again have their lectures for ladies, and 
Ladies' Associations, such as at Ahmedabad, Bombay, 
and Madras, started and maintained by the ladies 
themselves. Though the condition of female education 
is still very backward, and though the experiments 
that are now carried on are on different lines, the 
signs are clearly visible that throughout India, the 
national awakening to the necessit/ of developing the 
moral and intellectual capacities and aptitudes of 'our 
sisters has found universal recognition. 

As regards another sign of this liberal movement, 
which seeks to do equal justice to the rights of the 
female as of the male sex, it is satisfactory to note 
that though the number of widow marriages this year 

160 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

has been smaller than that of the previous years, 
still all the provinces have taken part in the movement. 
The reports show that in all twenty-five widow 
marriages were celebrated throughout India during the 
past year : in the Punjab ten, Bombay six, the Central 
Provinces four, Madras three, North-West Provinces and 
Bengal one each. The widow marriages in the Central 
Provinces have been all brought about directly or 
indirectly by the persistent efforts of Rao Bahadur 
Kolhatkar, the President of this gathering. For the re- 
marriages in Punjab the credit is due to Dewan Sant 
Ram and his friends of the Widow Marriage Association 
there, and in regard to Bombay the same honour is due 
to Mr. Bhagwandas, the son of the late Mr, Madhavdas 
Raghunathdas, in whose house two re-marriages 
were celebrated. The credit of the widow marriages 
celebrated in Madras is due to Rai Bahadur Vireshlingam 
Pantalu. There was thus not a single province in 
which friends of the cause did not manifest their 
active interest in it, which remark does not equally 
hold good for the previous years. The paucity in 
the total number was partly due to the calamities 
of the year, and partly to the prohibition of all 
marriages due to the year being a Sinhastha year. 
Another good sign of the times which may be noted 
is the fact that some of the castes, in which no 
re-marriages had been celebrated before, joined in the 
movemght for the first time this year. It' was also 
reported in the papers that the Maharajah of Nabha, 
in the Punjab, had exercised his influence in favour 
of bettering the condition of Hindu widows, and 

Revival and Reform. lt>l 

inducing influential Hindu gentlemen to support the 
widow marriage movement. In the Chandraseniya- 
Kayastha Prabhu caste of Bombay, y a similar 
pronouncement was made by the leaders of the 
community in favour of re-marriage, and it was 
resolved to bring up the subject before the next 
Kayastha Prabhu Conference to be held at Baroda. 
Another satisfactory indication of the times is furnished 
by the fact reported from Guzerat, that the Audicha 
Brahmin community at Damun has made a similar 
pronouncement in favour of widow marriage in their 
caste. The Widows' Homes at Baranagore and at 
Poona have also been successfully maintained not- 
withstanding pecuniary difficulties, and the numbers 
of widows attending the homes has slightly increased, 
thanks to the efforts of Mr, Shashipad Bannerjge 
and Professor Karve of Poona. 

f As regards Foreign Travel, the year has had a 
good record to show. Several gentlemen of the 
Saraswata Brahman community have returned from 
England, and though the Guru, High Priest, of the 
caste has refused admission to them, the reform 
party at Mangalore and in North Canara have 
succeeded in openly showing their sympathies with 
these men. Raja Nowlojee Rao Gujar, a scion of the 
princely house of Nagpore, returned from England, 
and was well received, and Messrs. Booti "and 
Alonikar of Nagpore, Mr. Krishna Rao *$holanath 
of Ahmedabad, Professor Gokhale of Poona, nd Mr, 
Ketkar of Gwalior, have similarly, though not 
formally, been admitted by some of their caste people 

162 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

and the opposition has not ventured to place any 
difficulties in their way. Two Bhatia gentlemen, for 
the first time in that community, left for England 
with the full support of their caste. In the Punjab, 
several young men in the Biradadri castes, who had 
been to England, were admitted back without any 
opposition. Two young men from the Aourorbans 
caste* went to England last year. The liberal section 
of the Cashmere Pandit's Sabha is strongly in favour 
of foreign travel. These instances show that, slowly 
but surely, in all parts of the country, the prejudice 
against foreign travel is on the wane, and that before 
long the orthodox community or communities will 
learn to tolerate these departures from custom as 
an inevitable change. 

In regard to the question of Inter-Marriage, the 
Bengal papers announced an inter-marriage in high 
life between two sub-divisions of the Kayastha 
community, which hitherto kept aloof. In the Punjab, 
there was a betrothal between two sub-castes of the 
Serin community. This was the first instance of an 
inter-marriage between these two sub-divisions. Many 
of the widow Carriages have also been instances of 
inter-marriages, and for the first time last year two 
instances of inter-marriage between Madrasee and 
Bengalee gentlemen and ladies were reported. The 
North-West Provinces reports show instances of similar 
lusion Between sub-divisions of the Kayastha caste 
there, '* and in Guzerat there is a similar tendency 
manifest in some of the castes to amalgamate 

Revival and Reform. 103 

As regards the postponement of Infant marriages, 
the reports from all provinces show a decided tendency 
to increase the limits of marriageable agas of girls 
and boys. In the Punjab, the Aourorbans Sabha has 
passed a resolution that no girl belonging to the 
caste should be given in marriage unless she has 
completed her twelfth year. In the Madras Presidency, 
the opinion is gaining ground that the time has 
now come for applying to Government for legislation 
on the subject to fix at least the marriageable 
age for boys, if not for girls, and to lay down a 
maximum limit of age for old persons who marry 
young girls, on the plan adopted by the Mysore 
Government. The Madras Provincial Social Con- 
ference and the Godavery District Conference 
expressly passed resolutions on this subject. The 
Hindu Social Reform Association at Madras has 
alo appointed a committee to draw up a memorial 
with the same object. The Hon. Mr. Jambulingan 
Mudliyar .is reported to be contemplating the 
introduction of a Bill in the local Council there on 
this subject. There have also been individual 
instances in some parts of the -country where 
grown-up girls have been married without ex- 
periencing any very bitter opposition from the 

Nearly all the Associations have been pledged to 
support the Purity movement, including fiie anti- 
Nautch and Temperance agitation, and the work done 
during the year shows considerable progress under 
both these heads. 

164 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

To turn next to another question in which the 
Conference has been interesting itself for the past 
few yeaVs, the Admission of Converts from other 
faiths, some progress has been made during the 
year. The Shuddhi Sabha admitted nearly 200 Maho- 
medan converts this year. Hitherto the movement 
for the readmission of converts to other faiths back 

into the Hindu society was chiefly confined to the 
Punjab. This year, however, there have been also 
instances of such conversions in Bengal, the North- 
West Provinces, and far away in Burmah, one of 
them being a convert Christian and the others 
Mahomedans. The Shuddhi Sabha of Lahore and 
the Arya Samaja there have deservedly taken the 
lead in this movement, and it will be a source of 
great strength to them that the movement has been 
taken up in the other Provinces also. The Central 
Provinces report for the year show that Mr. Shanker 
Shastri of Jubbulpore has published a pamphlet on 
the subject, and it is a strange coincidence that 
Professor Rajaram Shastri Bhagvat of Bombay read 
this year a paper before the branch of the Royal 
Asiatic Society there, showing how in old times the 
non-Aryan races were brought within the fold of the 
Aryan system. v 

As regards the reduction of extravagant expenses 
in marriage, a very important movement was started 
in Calcutta under the auspices of leading Kayastha 
gentlemen, including such men as Sir Romesh 
Chundra Mitra and the Hon'ble Mr. Madhava 
Chandra Ghose, who met at Babu Ramnath Ghose's 

Revival and Reform. 165 

house, and passed several resolutions which are 
likely to be attended with good results. Nearly 
every one of the reports of the North- West Pro- 
vinces contains details of the manner in which the 
Kayasthas, the Bhargavas, the Chaturvedis, the Vaishyas, 
the Jains, and the other castes have tried to lay down 
sliding scales of marriage expenditure, curtailing extra- 
vagance under many heads, abolishing Nautch parties, 
fireworks, and other useless items. In the Punjab, 
the Aurorbans have very considerably reduced the 
extravagance in marriage expenses. On the Bombay 
side, the Bhatia mandal and the Dasa Oswal 
Jains have successfully w r orked in the same direction. 
Even in far-off Baroda, the Dasa Porwad Bania 
caste people have been moving in the matter. 
Following the example of the Rajputra Hitakarini 
Sabha/ many non-Rajput castes in Rajputana and 
Malwa have laid down rules which are enforced by 
the same sanctions as those of the principal 

As regards Conference work generally, it may be 
noted that caste Conferences are the order of the 
day in all parts of India. I have, on previous 
occasions, mentioned the gatherings annually held 
this week in several large towns fn the North- 
West Provinces of the Kayastha and the Vaishya 
community. This year was distinguished \y? the 
holding of the first Provincial Social Conference in* 
Madras, in which Presidency also we had two 
district Conferences, one on the East Coast in the Goda- 
very District, and the other on the West Coast at 

166 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

Mangalore. New associations are being formed under 
very favourable auspices in many parts of the 
country, n&tably in the districts of Bombay and Madras 
Presidencies, to support the work of -the Conference 
and to give effect to its resolutions. 

Encouraged by the success which has attended the 
efforts of the Mysore Government, and the Malabar 
Marriage Law passed in the Madras Council, two Bills 
of great social importance have been introduced, one 
in the Imperial Council, to bring under better control 
religious Charities and Endowments, and another has 
been introduced in the Madras Council to remove all 
doubts and codify the la\Y in regard to what consti- 
tutes self-acquired property under the Hindu joint family 
system. Both these Bills have suggested subjects for 
discussion at the ensuing Conference this year, and it 
is not, therefore, necessary for me to enlarge upon their 
importance. There is a third measure before the 
Viceroy's Council which, though it relates to a particular 
section of the Mahomedan community, has a wider 
bearing which interests us all. The Memon section of 
this community in Bombay were originally Hindu 
converts, and though they embraced Mahomedanism, 
they retained their old Hindu customs in regard to 
inheritance and "succession, and these customs were 
recognized by our Law Courts. A majority of that 
community, however, now desire that, in place of the 
Hindu customs, the Mahomedan Law should govern 
their succession to the property of deceased persons. 
The Government of India accordingly intend to pass a 
sort of a permissive measure, by which a member of 

Revival and Reform. 167 

this community may retain or abandon the old rules 
by a formal declaration of his choice, which choice, 
once made, will be final. The subject bristles with 
difficulties, but the permissive legislation, if it proves a 
success in actual operation, will furnish a precedent 
which may prove of considerable help to those who 
wish to have more liberal laws of inheritance,^ and 
succession without a change of religion. 

Such is the brief record of the principal social 
events of the year. Many ardent spirits amongst 
us will, no doubt, be very much dissatisfied with 
the poverty of this record. At the same time we 
must bear in mind that hundreds and thousands, nay 
millions, of our countrymen regard this poor record as 
very revolutionary, and condemn this as one of the 
unseen causes which have brought about the physical 
and -moral catastrophes upon the land by way of 
punishment for the sins of the Reformers. These are 
the two extreme sides of the question, and it is not 
for me to ' say to an audience like this, on which 
side the balance of truth may be found. The Arya 
Patrika of the Pun' , .rich is a recognized organ of 
the Arya Samajas there, has, in its words of advice to 
the Conference, expressed its view that we are radi- 
cally in the wrong in seeking to reform the usages 
of our society without a change of religion, and it 
seriously suggests that we should in the first instance 
become members of the Arya Samaja, and this conversion 
will bring with it all the desired reforms. Many en- 
thusiastic friends of the Brahmo Samaja entertain similar 
views and give us similar advice. All I can say to 

168 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

these welcome advisers is that they do not fully 
realize the situation and its difficulties. People have 
changed their religion and yet retained their social 
usages unchanged. The native Christians, for example, 
especially the Roman Catholic section among them, 
and many sections of Mahomedans, are instances in 
point. Besides, it has been well observed that even 
for a change of religion, it is too often necessary 
that the social surroundings must be liberalised in a 
way to help people to realize their own responsibili- 
ties, and to strengthen them in their efforts. Lastly, 
these well-meaning advisers seem to forget that the 
work of reform cannot be put off indefinitely till the 
far more arduous and difficult work of religious con- 
version is accomplished. It may take centuries before 
the Arya or the Brahmo Samajas establish their 
claims to general recognition. In the meanwhile 
what is to become of the social organization ? 
Slowly but surely the progress of liberal ideas must 
be allowed to work its way in reforming 'our social 
customs, and the process cannot be stopped even 
though we may wish it. In the case of our society 
especially, the usages which at present prevail among 
us were admittedly not those which obtained in the 
most glorious periods of our history. On most of 
the* points which are included in our programme, our 
own records of the past show that there has been 
a decided change for the worse, and it is surely 
within the range of practical possibilities for us to 
hope that we may work up our way back to a 
better state of things, without stirring up the ran- 

Revival and Reform. 169 

corous hostilities which religious differences have a 
tendency to create and foster. There is no earthly 
reason whatsoever why we should not 1 co-operate 
with these religious organizations, or why they should 
not rather co-operate with us in this work in 
which our interests are common, because the 
majority of our countrymen hold different ,, views 
about religion from those which commend themselves 
to these Samajas. I am speaking these words with a 
full sense ol my responsibility, for I am, in my own 
humble way, a member of one, if not both the 
Samajas, and I am a sincere searcher after religious 
truth, in full sympathy with the Arya and Brahmo 
Samaja movements, and I hope, therefore, that these 
advisers of ours will take my reply in the same 
spirit, and will not misunderstand me. Schismatic 
methods of propagation cannot be applied with effect 
to vast communities which are not within their 
narrow pale. 

On the other side, some of our orthodox friends 
find fault with us, not because of the particular re- 
forms we have in view, but on account of the 
methods we follow. While the new religious sects 
condemn us for being too orthodox, the extreme 
orthodox section denounce us for being too revolu. 
tionary in our methods. According to these last, our 
efforts should be directed to revive, a^ji not to 
reform. I have many friends in this camp of ex- 
theme orthodoxy, and their watchword is that Revi- 
val, and not Reform, should be our motto. They 
advocate a return to the old ways, and appeal to the 

170 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

old authorities, and the old sanctions. Here also, as 
in the instance stated above, people speak without 
realizing the 1 full significance of their own words. 
When we are asked to revive our old institutions 
and customs, people seem to me to be very much 
at sea as to what it is they seek to revive. What 
particular period of our history is to be taken as the 
old whether the period of the Vedas, of the Smritis, 
of the Puranas, or of the Mabomedans or the modern 
Hindu times. Our usages been changed from 
time to time by a slow / ierr ocess of growth, and in 
some cases of decay and 5er s s^tion, and you cannot 
stop at any particular \ be put without breaking the 
continuity of the whole. Wt i my revivalist friend 
presses his argument upon m? he has to seek re- 
CQ" x to some subterfuge which really furnishes no 
own question. What shall we revive? 
the old habits of our people when 
the most ' sacred of our castes indulged in all the 
abominations, as we now understand them, of anima 
food and intoxicating drink, which exhausted every 
section of our country's Zoology and Botany. The 
men and the gods of these old" days ate and drank 
forbidden things to excess, in a way no revivalist 
will now venture to recommend. Shall we revive 
the twelve forms of sons, or eight forms of marriage, 
which inclyded capture, and recognized - mixed and 
illegitimate intercourse ? Shall we revive the Niyoga 
system of propagating sons on our brother's wives 
when widowed ? Shall we revive the old liberties 
tfaken by the Rishes and by the wives of the Rishes 

Revival and Reform. 171 

with the marital tie ? Shall we revive the hecatombs 
of animals sacrificed from year's end to year's 
end, in which even human beings' were not 
spared as propitiatory offerings to God ? Shall we 
revive the Shakti worship of the left hand, 
with its indecencies and practical debaucheries ? 
Shall we revive the Sati and infanticide .customs, 
or the flinging of living men into the rivers 
or over rocks, or hook-swinging, or the crushing 
beneath the Jagannath car? Shall we revive the 
internecine wars of the Brahmins and Kshatriyas 
or the cruel persecution and degradation of the 
Aboriginal population ? Shall we revive the custom of 
many husbands to one wife or of m^ wives to 
one husband ? Shall we require ou Brahmins 
to cease to be landlords and gentlemen, and turn 
into beggars and dependants upon the King as in 
olden times ? These instances will suffice to show 
that the plan of reviving the ancient usages and 
customs ' will not work our salvation, and is not 
practicable. If these usages were good and bene- 
ficial, why were they altered by our wise ancestors? 
If they were bad and injurious, how can any 
claim be put forward for their restoration after so 
many ages ? Besides, it seems to * be forgotten that 
in a living organism, as society is, no revival is 
possible. The dead and the buried or^ burnt are 
dead, buried, and burnt once for all, and the dead 
past cannot, therefore, be revived except by a re- 
formation of the old materials into new organized 
beings. If revival is impossible, this re-formation is* 

172 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

the only alternative open to sensible people, and 
now it ma)' be asked what is the principle on 
which this re-formation must be based. People have 
very hazy ideas on this subject. It seems to many 
that it is the outward form which has to be changed, 
and if this change can be made, they think that 
all the difficulties in our way will vanish. If we change 
our outward manners and customs, and change our 
food and dress, sit in a particular way, or 
walk in a particular fashion, our work, according to 
them, is accomplished. I cannot but think that 
much of the prejudice against the reformers is due 
to this misunderstanding. It is not the outward 
form but the inward form, the thought and the 
idea which determines the outward form, that has 
to be changed, if real reformation is desired. Now 
what have been the inward forms or ideas which 
have been hastening our decline during the past 
three thousand years? These ideas may be briefly 
set forth as isolation, submission to outward force or 
power more than to the voice of the inward conscience, 
perception of factitious difference between men and 
men, due to heredity and birth, a passive acquie- 
scence in evil or wrong-doing, and a general indiffer- 
ence to secular Well-being, almost bordering upon 
fatalism. These have been the root ideas of out 
social system. They have, as their natural result; 
led to th$ existing family arrangements, where the 
woman is entirely subordinated to the man, and 
the lower castes to the higher castes, to the length oj 
depriving men of their natural respect for humanity 

Revival and Reform. 173 

All the evils we seek to combat flow from the 
prevalence of these ideas. They are mere corollaries 
to these axiomatic assumptions. They prevent our 
people from realising that they really are in all 
conscience neither better nor worse than their 
fellows, and that the average man, whatever garb he 
may put on, is the worse for his assuming dignities 
and powers which do not, in fact, belong to him. 
As long as these ideas remain operative on our mind 
we may change our outward forms and institutions, 
and be none the better for the change. These 
ideas have produced their results, and we must 
judge of their good or bad qualities, as St. Paul 
says, by their fruits. Now that these results have 
been disastrous nobody disputes or doubts, and the 
lesson to be drawn for our guidance in the fftture 
from this fact is that the current of these ideas 
must be changed, and in the place of the old 
worship, we must accustom ourselves and others to 
worship and reverence new ideals. In place of 
isolation we must have fraternity, or rather elastic 
expansiveness. At present it is everybody's ambition 
to pride himself upon being a member of the smallest 
community that can be conceived, and the smaller the 
number of those with whom you can dine or marry or 
associate, the higher your purity and perfection.. The 
purest person is he who cooks his own food, and does 
not allow the shadow of his nearest friencf to fall, upon 
his cooked food. Every caste and every sect has 
thus a tendency to split itself into smaller castes 
and smaller sects in practical life. Even in philosophy, 

174 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

it is a received maxim that knowledge and 
salvation are only possible for the esoteric few, 
with whom only is true wisdom and power, and 
for the rest of mankind, they must be left to grovel 
in superstition and vice, with only a colouring of 
so-called religion to make them respectable. Now 
all this must be changed. The new mould of thought 
must be cast, as stated above, in fraternity, or all- 
attracting expansiveness, and cohesion in society. 
Increase your circle of friends and associates, slowly 
and cautiously if you will, but the tendency must 
be to turn our face towards a general recognition of 
the essential equality between man and man. That 
will beget sympathy and power. It will strengthen 
your own hands by the sense that you have numbers 
with you, and not against you, or, as you foolishly 
imagine, below you. The next idea which lies at 
the root of our helplessness is that we were always 
intended to remain children, to be subject to outside 
control, and never to rise to the dignity of self- 
control by making our conscience and our reason the 
sole guides to our conduct. All our past history 
has been a terrible witness to the havoc committed 
by this misconception. We are children, no doubt, 
but the children .of God, and not of man, and the 
voice of God in us is the only voice to which we are 
bound to listen. Of course, all of us cannot listen 
to that voice when we desire it, because from long 
neglect we have benumbed the faculty of conscience 
in us. With too many of us, a thing is true or 
false, righteous or sinful, simply because somebody 

Revival and Reform. 175 

else has said that it is so. Duties and obligations 
are duties and obligations, not because we feel them 
to be so, but because somebody, reputed to be wise, 
has laid it down to be so. Of course, in small 
matters of manners and courtesies, this outward 
dictation is not without its use. But when wo 
abandon ourselves entirely to this helplessness, and 
depend on others' wills, it is no wonder tfnat we 
become as helpless as children. Now, the new idea 
which should take its place is not the idea of 
rebellious independence and overthrow of all 
authority, but that of freedom responsible to God 
alone. Great and wise men in the past or in the 
present, have a claim on our regards. But they 
must not come between us and our God -the Divine 
principle seated within everyone of us, high or low. 
It is this sense of self-respect, or rather of respect 
to' the God in us, which has to be cultivated, and 
it is a tender plant which takes years and years to 
cultivate. But we have the capacity, and we owe 
it as a duty to ourselves to undertake the task. 
Reverence all human authority, pay your respects to 
all prophets and revelations, but . subordinate that 
reverence to the Divine command in us. Similarly, 
men differ from men, in natural capacities and 
aptitudes, and heredity and birth are factors of some 
importance in our development, but it is at the same 
time true that they are not the all-important factors 
that we have learnt to regard them froifl sheer 
idleness, as determining our fates by a sort of moral 
necessity. Heredity and birth explain many things,. 

176 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

but neither they, nor the law of Karma, explain all 
things, and what is worse, they do not explain the 
mystery that makes man and woman what they 
really are the reflections of the image of God. 
Our passions and our feelings, our pride and our 
ambition, lend strength to these factitious agencies, and 
with their help, the doctrine of Karma completes our 
conquest, and enforces our surrender. Heredity and 
birth can be controlled and set back by a properly 
trained will, when this will is subservient to a higher 
Will, This misconception is very hard to remove, 
perhaps the hardest of the old ideals, but removed 
it must be, if not in one life or generation, in many 
lives and many generations, if we are to rise to our full 
stature. The fourth old form or idea, to which I will 
rjllude here, is our acquiescence in wrong or evil-doing 
as an inevitable condition of human life, about which we 
need not be very particular, as after all human life 
is a vanity and a dream, and we are not much con- 
cerned with it. It is in fact atheism in its worst form. 
No man or woman really ceases to be animal who 
does not perceive and realize that wrong and evil-doing, 
impurity and vice, crime and misery, and sin of all 
kinds is really our animal existence prolonged. It is 
the beast in us r which blinds us to impurity and vice 
and makes them even attractive. There must be 
nautches in our temples, say our priests, because even 
the gods '-cannot do without their impure fairies. This 
is only a typical instance of our acquiescence in im- 
purity. There must be drunkenness in the world, there 
must be poverty, and wretchedness, and tyranny, there 

Revival and Reform. 177 

must be fraud and force, there must be thieves and 
robbers, and the law to punish them. No doubt these 
have been facts, and there is no use denying their ex- 
istence. But in the name of all that is ' sacred and 
true, do not acquiesce in them, do not hug these 
evils to your bosom, and cherish them. Their contact 
is poison, and the worst poison, because it does not 
kill, but corrupts men. A healthy sense of the true 
dignity of our nature and of man's high destiny is the 
best corrective and antidote to this poison. I think 
I have said more than enough to suggest to your 
reflecting minds what it is that we have to reform. 
All admit that we have been de-formed. We have 
lost our stature, we are bent in a hundred places, 
our eyes lust after forbidden things, our ears desire to 
hear scandals about our neighbours, our tongue wantg 
to taste forbidden fruit, our hands itch for another 
man's property, our bowels are deranged with 
indigestible food. We cannot walk on our feet, but 
require stilts or crutches. This is our present social polity, 
and now we want this deformity to be removed, and 
the only way to remove it is to place ourselves under 
the discipline of better ideas and fornjs such as those 
I have briefly touched above. Now this is the work 
of the reformer. Reforms in the matter of infant 
marriage and enforced widowhood, in the matter of 
temperance and purity, intermarriages between castes, 
the elevation of the low castes, and the raadmission 
of converts, and regulations of our endowments and 
charity are reforms, only so far and no further, as 
they check the influence of the old ideas and promote 

178 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the growth of the new tendencies. The reformer has 
to infuse in himself the light and warmth of nature, 
and he can only do it by purifying and improving 
himself and his surroundings. He must have his family, 
village, tribe, and nation, recast in other and new 
moulds, and that is the reason why social reform 
becomes an obligatory duty, and not a mere pastime 
whictt might be given up at pleasure. Revival is, as 
I have said, impossible as impossible as mass conver- 
sion into other faiths. But even if these were possi- 
ble, they would only be useful to us if they reformed 
us and our surroundings, if they made us stronger, 
braver, truer men, with all our faculties of endurance 
and work developed, with all our sympathies fully 
awakened and refined, and with our heads and hearts 
acting in unison with a purified and holy will, if they 
made us feel the dignify of our being arid the high 
destiny of our existence, made us love all, work with 
all, and feel for all. This is the reformer's worl^and 
tKis7 in my opinion, is the reason why the Conference 
meets from year to year, and sounds the harmonies 
in rery ear which can listen to them with advantage. 



ONCE more within a cycle of twelve years we 
meet for the third time in this holy region of 
Southern India, the birth-place of the Social 
Conference. Men and things have moved fast siiic 
we first met under the leadership of the late Raja 
Sir T. Madhava Rao, the first President of the Con- 
ference. The shadow of the great calamity, which 
has been dogging our footsteps for the last three 
years, is still upon us, and its dark clouds are still 
thickening on the southern horizon, while it has not 
yet stopped its destructive work IH the Bombay 
Presidency. The persistency with which these calamities 
succeed one another and intensify our suffering has 
made some wise men among you prophesy still 
more dire calamities in the years to come. These 
prophets derive their knowledge from observations of 
the conjunctions of stars and planets. We" less 
gifted creatures, can but bow to them as we look at 

* Address, " Indian National Social Conference," Madras, 1898. 

180 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the signs below our feet, on the earth we live and 
move and have our being in. 

A Chrjstian missionary who worked in your 
Province for thirty years, more than a hundred years 
ago, has left on record his impressions of Southern 
India as he saw it in those old days, and the 
words of despair he has uttered fill one's mind 
with graver forebodings than the prophecies of our 
astrological observers, Abb6 Dubois, whose work has 
been recently published, has, in one of his chapters 
on the 'Poverty of India/ pronounced this curse 
upon the people : ' It is a vain hope to suppose that 
the English people can ever improve the condition 
of the Hindus. The efforts of a humane and just 
government may succeed up to a certain point, but as 
long as the Hindus cling to their civil and religious 
institutions, customs and habits, they must remain 
what they have always been, grovelling in poverty 
and wretchedness. These institutions and customs 
are insurmountable obstacles in their path -of progress. 
To make a new race of Hindus, you must begin 
by undermining the foundations of their civilization, 
religion, and polity, and turn them into atheists and 
barbarians, and then give them new laws, new 
religion, and ne\* polity. But even then, the task will 
be half accomplished, for we should still have to 
give them a new nature and different inclinations ; 
otherwise, they would soon relapse into their former 
state and worth.' 

This pronouncement, by one who had no motive 
to judge us ill, and who had the best opportunities 

Southern India a Hundred Years Ago. 181 

to judge us well, would, if true, be to my mind a 
far worse calamity than the physical sufferings and 
trials we are now enduring, and which, according 
to some of our wise men, we are fated to suffer a 
hundredfold more in the near future, It is strange 
that these, a Christian Missionary and our wise men 
should thus join their hands over the wide expanse 
of time and space that separates them. There are 
those among us who have firm faith, quite indepen- 
dently of the planetary conjunctions, in the gradual 
decay of all virtue and piety in this land when 
the fatal limit of five thousand years from the com- 
mencement of the Kaliyuga has been reached, 
and according to whom we are now just on the 
verge of crossing this Rubicon which separates law 
from anarchy, and virtue from impiety, and nothing 
that -men can do in the work of their own salvation 
toill ever help to avert the crisis. 

In this situation we meet here under circum- 
stances which are calculated to make us anxious 
and thoughtful, and to sober and moderate our 
enthusiasm. Here, we have met full of hope, and we 
find that Nature and Man, the latter as represented 
by an eminent Christian Missionary, and also by our 
own kith and kin, place this skeleton before our eyes 
in the midst of our rejoicings. Are we then all indul- 
ging in the fond dreams of a Fool's Paradise ? Is 
this < Holy Land, ' peopled by one-sixth of the human 
race, fit for no other use than to be the accursed 
desert of human hopes and wishes, without the ferti- 
lizing rains of divine favour to water its dry and parched- 

182 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

up plains, and no green vegetation to bless the 
eyes, and no sweet sounds of music to lull the ears ? 
I, for one ;i: refuse to believe that such a doom is reserved 
for this favoured region, even though it is pronounced 
by reverend missionaries and our own revered religious 
teachers. I, for one, refuse to believe that we can 
make, no headway in the path of progress, and that 
the British connection with this country, with all its 
humane and just administration, will prove of no 
avail to lift us up from the mire of our wretchedness. 
The seeming alliance between the missionary and 
our wise people has this weak point in its armour 
of defence. According to our people, the state of 
the country a hundred years ago, was much better 
in all respects, morally and socially, than what it is 
now. The Missionary's despair was, however, forced 
upon him by the state of the country as he saw it 
a hundred years ago, and one can feel almost sure, 
from the way in which things have moved since he 
wrote, that, if he had lived a hundred years later, 
he would have joined with the contemporary men of 
his calling, in conferring on us his blessings instead 
of his curses. * The formidable alliance thus turns 
out on examination to be not so formidable as it 
seems at first ' sight, and we can turn one of our 
assailants against the other, and await in hope the 
final result. What then was the social condition of 
Southern India a hundred years back, and have the 
past hundred years worked no permanent change for 
the better ? This will be the theme to which I 
shall address my observations to-night, and I hope to 

Southern India a Hundred Years Agj. 183 

be able to show that, if things are not all as bright 
as we wish them to be, they are not so dreary 

and cheerless as some would have them to be, and 

* j 

that the British connection and its 'just and humane 
administration have brought about a change in our 
religion, law, and polity, of such a character as not 
to make it necessary that we should be all turned 
into atheists and barbarians, to be whitewashed 
again into civilisation and manners, and that, if we 
have not acquired a new nature, we have at least 
acquired inclinations and aspirations which will 'prevent 
our relapse into our former condition. 

A hundred years ago, Abbe Dubois mentions that 
among the Nairs on the Malabar coast, women had 
several husbands at one and the same time, and 
amongst the Namburi Brahmins of that province, *f 
a girl died unmarried, it was deemed necessary for 
her salvation that the corpse should be married to 
some Brahmin hired for the purpose, before it was 
burned. 'Then in the Madura district, there was a 
caste called Totiyars, among whom brothers, uncles 
and nephews had a common wife among them, and 
in Eastern Mysore there was a caste in which the 
mother, giving her eldest daughter in marriage, had 
to puncture two of her fingers. On the Malabar 
coast in those days, all Sudras drunk toddy, ^nd 
Brahmins used opium. In the Carnatic % hills men 
and women did not wash their clothes till they wore 
away by use. In those days again, besides the caste 
and sect-divisions, there were what are called the 
right hand and the left hand factions, in which the 

184 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

low castes were divided upon such questions as the 
right to wear slippers, to ride on horseback, or to 
pass certain, streets, or to sound certain music before 
them. All these citations are made from the first 
chapter of Dubois' work, and the editor of that 
book has found it necessary, in his desire to state 
the tryth, that all these customs of polyandry and 
uncleanliness, and these factious feuds have ceased to 
exist. In the second chapter of the same work, 
mention is made of the condition of the Pariahs. 
That condition is bad enough even now, but the 
details given of their wretchedness in this work 
baffle all description. They were forbidden to cross 
Brahmin streets, or to come into Brahmin neighbour- 
hood. On the Malabar Coast, the Pariahs were 
attached to the land as serfs and sold with it. In 
those good old days, adultery was punished with 
death inflicted on the woman, and that death was 
inflicted by the members of the caste. Expulsion 
from caste for breach of caste-rules was irrevocable, 
unless a rival faction was created by the friends of 
the person excommunicated. Even when thousands 
of Brahmins of ' those days, as well as Sudras, were 
forcibly converted by Tippu Sultan, the Brahmins 
who were applied to for re-admission found it 
impossible, even with the help of the Brahmin 
Government of Poona, to effect their . restoration, 
while many thousands of Christians w r ho had been 
similarly converted by Tippu Sultan, were freely 
admitted back into the Christian community, by th e 
intervention of Abb6 Dubois, Colonel Wilks, and 

Southern India a Hundred Years Ago. 185 

General Wellesley. The professors of the so-called 
Fine Arts, such as music, painting, and sculpture, 
belonged in those days to castes which \vere held to 
be lower in the social scale than the Sudras, and 
their touch was pollution. These things have now 
been, according to the editor of the work, all changed 
for the better. Adultery is not punished by death 
without trial, excommunication is not irrevocable, 
wholesale conversions by force are impossible, and 
there are movements to re-admit converts to other 
faiths when they seek such re-admission. This year, 
the Arya Samaja in the Punjab admitted live such 
Christian and Moslem proselytes. And men of the 
highest caste are now engaged in the practice of the 
fine arts. As regards the Brahmins themselves, the 
power of the Gurus in those days in exacting Pafta- 
Puja w r as something terrible. Dubois' mentions without 
reserve that many had to sell their children for 
Guru-dakshinas. Women, dishonoured by the 
Guru, were called Garud Baswis or Linga Baswis, 
and had the stamp of Garud or the Ling branded on 
tender parts of their bodies. And then, these 
women became wives of gods, and served in the 
temple, till they became old and lost their attraction. 
In Dubois' time the girls were married at the age of 
five, seven, or at the utmost, when they were pine 
years old. Widows, of course, were not allowed to marry 
in the higher castes, and even the Sudras followed 
Lhe example. On the fast-days people not only to6k 
ao food on the nth day, but also ate only once on 
^he ioth and the i2th rlavs. In Bengal, the widows 

ZLssavs o?i Religious and Social Reform. 

may not even drink water on the fast-days. People 
who happened to kill Nag, serpents, had to expiate 
their offence by a ceremony, called the Pavadan, 
which consisted of an incision made on the thigh 
or arm of the offender, or of some other person who 
might stand as substitute on the former's paying a 
large Dakhshina. In the last case, the blood was 
sprinkled on the body of the offender. 

As regards intemperance, Dubois says, that while 
the Europeans are noted for their drunkenness, the 
Brahmins are in their turn open to the charge of 
gluttony, and even as regards drunkenness, he says, 
they were not altogether exempt from the vice, and 
gives an instance in which a Tanjore Brahmin's 
house caught fire, and, among the things saved 
wre one vessel of salted pork and another of 
arrack or native rum. Of course, these Brahmins 
must have been Shakti worshippers or vama-margis, 
among whom the use of forbidden food and drink, 
and promiscuous mingling of men and women in 
indecent gatherings, were tests for admission into 
the secret society. The respect due from the 
Shudras to the Brahmins, and from women to men, 
was in those days best shown by uncovering the 
upper part of the body of the inferior person before 
the eyes of superiors. As regards Sati, it was the 
commonest occurrence to witness- Dubois himself 
witnessed the deaths of several Satis, among others 
the Ranees of Tanjore, who immolated themselves 
with the corpse of the deceased Raja. There were 
<some seven hundred Sati deaths in the year 1817 in 

Southern India a Hundred Years Ago, 187 

the Bengal Presidency alone. As regards the belief in 
astrology, magic, omens, and palmistry, Dubois states 
that there was in his time almost a general belief 
in these superstitious fancies. These beliefs are still 
not extinct, but we have no idea of the influence 
they exercised a hundred years ago. Then again, 
turning to the popular religion of the country, the 
position of the Devadasees was recognised as so 
respectable, that even private gentlemen visiting 
each other on formal business, had to be 
accompanied by these attendants. There were temples 
in Mysore, belonging to the aboriginal gods, where fairs 
were held at which women cursed with barrenness, 
made vows to get children, and in connection with 
these vows had resort to the most dirty practices 
which cannot be described in decent langi&ge. 
Their gods and goddesses were carried in processions 
in those days, being made to mimic obscene 
gestures to one another. These processions may 
still be* seen in various parts of Southern India, but 
robbed of much of their obscene features. Walking 
on burning fire, hook-swinging, piercing the cheeks 
and the lips or the tongue with iron rods or 
silver wire these were the received forms of 
devotion in many temples. 

I think ,1 have said enough to give you an 
idea of the state of things in Southern India which 
Dubois witnessed with his own eyes a hundred 
years ago. It is quite possible, that * being- a 
missionary, he unconsciously exaggerated many 
points, and misunderstood many others. There aye 

188 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

good reasons to think that he was misinformed 
in many respects ; but making allowance for all 
these defects, the general correctness of his description, 
especially of the ignorant classes of society, can 
hardly be impugned. There are fossil remains and 
vestiges of all these enormities and superstitions 
even still visible outside our larger towns in the 
mofussil. Even if one-tenth of the evils and vices, 
and obscenities, and enormities which met his eyes 
were true, they make up together a picture 
sufficiently disheartening to the most enthusiastic 
defender <of the past. The fact is that Brahmin 
civilisation, with all its poetry, and philosophy, with 
strict rules of abstinence and purit)^ had hardly 
penetrated below the upper classes who constituted 
less" than ten per cent, of the population. We can 
easily understand these phenomena from our own 
present experiences. 

The practical question for us to consider is, 
whence came this polyandry and < polygamy ; this 
brutal conception of gods and goddesses ; this 
confessed cruelty to women ; these superstitions ; 
these feuds between castes and sub-sections of castes 
and factions ? Abbe Dubois has been very unjust 
to the Brahmins when he holds them responsible 
for all these enormities. The Brahmin civilization, 
whatever else it was, was certainly not a , civilization 
which, favoured polyandry or polygamy, drunkenness 
and obscenity, cruelty and vice. We have records 
which mirror the thoughts of the Brahmin settlers 
m Southern India. The ideal of marriage was 

Southern India a Hundred Years Ago, 189 

monogamy, and it is best typified in the story of 
the Ramayana, where the hero is distinguished 
above all men for his single-hearted devotion to his 
consort. The women, as depicted rin the early 
Brahmin records, as also in the epics, are respected 
and honoured, left to their choice to marry or to 
remain single, and are oftentimes noted as composers 
of hymns, and writers of philosophical works. The 
wife, even in the rituals we now recite, is the 
sole mistress of the house, and as free an agent 
as her partner in life. The immolation in the 
form of Sati was not only not recognised as a 
duty, but second marriage was prescribed as quite 
open to her, if she so wished it, in all the first three 
Yugas. Early marriage was not dreamt of, and one 
of the qualifications for marriage was developed woman- 
hood. The castes were not so strongly separated as to 
prevent inter-marriages in the order of the caste. As 
for interdining, the first three castes among themselves 
observed no jealous distinction. And the better 
specimens of the fourth caste were specially com- 
mended as servants for cooking food. Ghost-worship 
and Devil-worship were unknowij to the Brahmin 
cult. As for crossing seas on long voyages, there 
is historical evidence that Brahmin missionaries and 
settlers established themselves and their religion 
in far-off Java, and Sumatra, and their Buddhist 
successors converted half the human ntee in Burma, 
Siam, China, Japan, Tibet and distant Mongplia. 
Even in India itself, the Aryan settlers found 
no difficulty in incorporating with them the 

190 Essays on Religious and Social Reform 

non-Aryan races into fellowship in the profession 
of the Aryan faith. 

The question thus recurs again, how it happened 
that institutions and practices so essentially just and 
pure, so healthy and considerate, came to be deflected 
from their natural growth, and made room for the 
distortions which struck Abbe Dubois as so monstrous 
and excite surprise in us even at the present day ; how 
the chivalry and honour of our noble ancestors dis- 
appeared, and their spiritual worship gave way to ghost 
and demon-worship, the ministers of [which in many 
cases are the descendants of these same old Brahmins? 
Unless we find some working solution which satisfac- 
torily accounts for this transformation, we shall never 
be able to find our way with sure steps out of this 
labyrinth. Abbe Dubois' explanation is obviously un- 
true. The fact appears to be, though I speak with 
diffidence, and subject to correction, that the Brahmin 
settlers in Southern India and the warriors and traders 
who came with them were too few in numbers and 
too weak in power to make any lasting impression 
beyond their own limited circle upon the vast mul- 
titudes who constituted the aboriginal races in the 
Southern Peninsula. In North India, where their 
power was more distinctly felt, they appear to have 
been about the commencement of the Christian era 
submerged by fresh hordes of Scythians or Shakas, of 
Huns and the Jats or Goths who subverted the 
Roman Empire. In Southern India it was not foreign 
invasion, but the upheaval of the aboriginal Dravidian 
races which brought about pretty nearly the same 

Southern India a Hundred Years Ago. 191 

results. There is a tone of despondency and panic 
in the Puranas written about this time which can 
only be explained by some such phenomena. How- 
ever this may be, this is certain, that \vlaen Hinduism 
revived from the depression into which it had fallen, 
in consequence of the rise of Buddhism, it did not 
revive in its old, pristine purity, but in the more or 
less adulterated form as we now see it ever? at the 
present day. In their anxiety to destroy Buddhism, 
and later on the Jain faith, the Brahmins allied them- 
selves with the barbarism of the land, represented in 
the countless multitudes whom they had till then 
contemptuously treated as Sudras, and as out of the 
pale of their early institutions. From being sages and 
prophets, poets and philosophers, they descended to 
the lower level of priests and purohilas, and tjius 
sacrificed their independence for the advantage of 
power and profit. The gods and goddesses of the 
Dasyus, or the Rakshasas, who had no place in the 
old pantheon, were identified as being more or less 
pure forms of the old Brahmanical Triad, or rather 
of the two divisions of Shaiva and Vaishnava cults. 
The old elastic system of the three divisions of the 
Aryas and the fourth non-Aryan section became crysta- 
lised into local and professional castes of which the 
Brahmins became the priests ; and these sub-divisions 
became strict and insurmountable barriers. Such a 
change as this could not be brought abdht without a 
surrender, all along the line, to the brute * force . of 
barbarous influences. Woman ceased to be an object 
of respect, and became the subject of distrust and 

192 Essays on Religions and Social Reform* 

jealousy who always must remain dependent on- her 
relations. The institution of Sati, found in all bar- 
barous nations, was introduced ; marriage by choice 
gave way tp the practice of sale in marriage; and 
polygamy and polyandry became legalized institutions. 
Brahminism, having failed to conquer from want of 
power, allowed itself thus to be degraded and con- 
quered i>y the multitudes whom it failed to civilize. 
As priests of the castes and the aboriginal gods and 
goddesses, it became their interest to magnify for 
their advantage the old superstitious beliefs ; and with 
a view to justifying this action, books, called the 
Mahatmas, were composed in the names of the Pura- 
nas, and new texts were introduced, condemning 
all the old approved institutions, such as celibacy, 
seg voyages, late marriages, and widow marriages as 
being unsuited to the new Kali-yuga, and therefore 
forbidden, though practised in old times. This seems 
to me to be the only possible explanation of the 
change of front which we see in the old records. 
Of course, in the midst of this degradation, the 
spirit of the old civilization was not entirely extinct, 
and the great Acharyas, who flourished in Southern 
India, and the equally great saints and prophets who 
succeeded them, entered their protest against this 
cruelty and wrong and degradation of the priesthood, 
and' held up the light on high with the indepen- 
dence of tke old Rishis. Their labours bore 
no pernranent result, because of the irruption of the 
Mahomedans which soon followed, and the establish- 
ment of Moslem power aggravated the old evils by 

Southern India a Hundred Years Ago. l'J3 

the example which the Mussalmans set to the subject 
races. Even the Mahomedans, however, were not able 
to extinguish the old fire completely, and the spirit 
of righteous self-assertion and of faith in God, which 
had distinguished Brahmanism from the first, only 
wanted an opportunity to regain its old liberty. 

If this account of the deflection or corruption of 
Brahmanism be approximately correct, it furnishes us 
with a clue by which we can trace back our steps 
in this labyrinth of confusion. The opportunity so 
sorely needed has come to this country, and slowly 
but surely priest-ridden and caste-ridden India is loosen- 
ing its coils of ages. Abbe Dubois was unjust to 
the old civilisation when he thought that we should 
have to unlearn all our past, and to commence with 
atheism %nd barbarism, and then take our religion, 
law^ and polity from our foreign masters. Even if 
the task were possible, the remedy would be worse 
than the disease. We have not to unlearn our entire 
past, certainly not the past which is the glory and 
wonder of the human race. We have to retrace our 
steps from the period of depression, when, in panic 
and weakness, a compromise was made with the brute 
force of ignorance and superstition. If this unholy 
alliance is set aside, we have the Brahmanism of the 
first three Yugas unfolding itself in all its power and 
purity, as it flourished in the best period of our history. 

This is the work of the Reform movement. I^ast 
year I spoke of ' Revival and Reform,' and *I tried 
to show how Reform was not Revival. The line of 
thought developed above shows that the work of 

194 Essays on Religious and Social Rejorm. 

Reform is really the work of Liberation,- liberation 
from the restraints imposed upon an essentially 
superior religion, law and polity, institutions and 
customs, by t our surrender to the pressure of mere 
brute force for selfish advancement. Our nature has 
not to be changed. If that were necessary, escape 
would be hopeless indeed. Our inclinations and 
aspirations have to be shifted from one quarter to 
its opposite, from the more immediate past of our 
degradation to the most remote past of our glory. 
We need no foreign masters for the purpose. It is 
enough if they keep the peace, and enforce toleration 
to all who work for righteousness. Super-imposed 
laws will not do service to us, unless as in some 
extreme cases, the Surgeon has to be sent for to stop 
hemorrhage and allow the Physician time to heal the 
patient. This work of liberation must be the work 
of our own hands, each one working of himself for 
his own release. It is in tin's spirit that the work 
has been carried on during the last thirty years and more. 
For the last twelve years, the Conference has been 
trying to establish a bond of union between the several 
associations and individuals who are working in this 
direction in this and in other parts of the country, and 
to publish the results of that work for the information 
of all concerned. Measured from year to year, the 
progress seems small, and in many years the harvests 
are not plentiful. The year about to close has been 
on the* whole a lean year, owing to causes which 
need not be detailed here, the plague being the 
principal cause among others. The results of this 

Southern India a Hundred Years Ago. 19 

year will be placed before the delegates in a summary 
form at the first preliminary meeting to-morro\v 
morning. One general observation may be made on 
this occasion, The question is often asked, who arc 
the heroes and martyrs in this reform work? tin: 
prevailing impression being that unless heroes a\d 
martyrs are forthcoming, no cause can make progi< ss. 
I would say in answer that to the extent Huit this 
impression is true, the cause had its heroes and 
martyrs in Pandit Ishwar Chawlij Vidya Sugar, 
Pandit Vishnu Shastri, Mr. Karsandas Muljee and 
Mr. Madhavadus Raghunathdas, and even now we 
have Rao Bahadur Kolhatkar, our President of last 
year, Dr. Bhandarkar, our President of one of the 
previous years, our honoured President this year, 
Pandit Viresalingam Pantulu, Prof. Karve, and otters 
who require no mention, who have in their own lives 
Set an example which shows that the lire is not 
yet put out altogether. Dr. Jaising, and Mr. 
Dwarkanatha Gangauli, who died this year, may also 
be mentioned, one as the life and soul of the Shudhi 
Sabha, and the other as the practical reformer from 
among the Brahino community. It is not given to 
all to be heroes and martyrs in such a cause. But, 
it is given to every one to bp an earnest and 
genuine \vorker. In that capacity the names ot 
hundreds may be mentioned who are unknown beyond 
their own circles, and whose work therefore, is one 
of pure love and self-sacrifice. Lala Devraj LaJa 
Munshiram of Jallundhar, Lala Hansraj and Lala 
Ruchiram of Lahore, the late Gokuldas of Succur. 

196 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

Mr. Dayaram Gidumal of Sindh, Mr. Lai Shankar of 
Ahmedabad, Mr. Damodardas Goverdhandas, the late 
Dr. Atmaram Pandurang who died during the year, 
Babu Shashipad Bannerjee, Babu Rash Behari Mukerjee 
who also died this year, Dewan Bahadur Raghunath 
Rao, Mr. R. Venkatratnam of your part of the 
country, Mr. Vishnu Pant Mahajani of Berar and 
Lala Baijnatha of N.-W. P., may be mentioned 
in this connection as persons about whose genuine 
devotion to the cause there can be only one 
opinion. In spiritual, if not in temporal matters 
the remark is true that a man's wealth is measured 
not by what he has in the way of possessions out- 
side himself, but by what he is or may become in 
the way of his own development from year to year 
into higher and fuller life. Liberties bestowed on us 
by foreigners are concessions forced on us by the 
force of circumstances. These are not really ours, 
they are possessions only and not developments. 
But, when multitudes of people in different parts of 
the country yearn for a change in their social sur- 
roundings, and each in his place seeks to work it 
out at great sacrifice of his present interests, it can 
hardly be but that those yearnings and struggles must 
bear fruit. One of our most popular saints has in his 
own inimitable way, described this fruit to be the 
strength w^ich comes from the resolve to be better ; 
and judged by this test, there can be no reason 
to doukt that this desire to be better, and this 
resolve to strive for it, are both growing in all the 
many races that dwell in this land. Other influences 

Southern India a Hundred Years Ago. 197 

are co-operating to help on the work, and make it 
smoother and easier of accomplishment. But without 
such a desire and such a resolve, these forces 
would be powerless to act. We have therefore, no 
reason to be depressed by the calamities and by 
the prophecies of evil to come, and of our 
unalterable doom pronounced by our own or other 
people. The harvest is ready to the hand of every 
one who is prepared to give his honest labour for 
the day, to earn his rest for the night in life and 
after life. 


ONCE more we meet on this platform to take 
stock of our gains and losses of the year 
that is about to close. Many familiar faces that 
cheered us in our work and helped us with their sweet 
encouragement, have left us, and their vacant places 
have not yet been filled up in our hearts and 
memories. The sad reflection comes upon our minds 
as we recollect these losses, whether after all this 
Theistic movement is or is not destined to out-live those 
who first founded it in our midst twenty-eight years 
ago, and if we were left upon our resources, this 
feeling of dismay might overpower us with its 
heavy weight. The fact, however, is that the 
movement has struck its roots deep in the past, and 
its growth in the future may, therefore, safely be 
expected to embrace a longer period than is 
represented by the lives of the present generations 
of our leaders. During the last few years I have been 
trying to set forth from this platform, and in 

* Anniversary Address at the Prarthana Mandira, Bombay, 1895. 

Hindu Protestantism. 199 

other places also, the past history of the origin 
and progress of what has been well described by 
our saints and prophets for two thousand years and 
more, as the Bhagawata Dharma, of whiclf the present 
Samaja movement is only a faint reflection and a 
humble off-shoot. One of the essential features of 
the Bhagawata Dharma is its Protestant character. 
As among the Jews, prophet after proptfet has 
risen among us, and in their lives and precepts have 
protested against and denounced certain habits of 
thought and principles of action which have an 
inveterate tendency to encrust the true spirit of our 
faith and to give a human coating which obscures from 
view the essentially divine element. Bhagawata Dharma 
may, therefore, be safely described as Protestant 
Hinduism, and I would bespeak your favourable 
attention to-day to the chief feature of this long 
continued protest, which has done such great service 
in the past, and which is likely to do still greater 
service in- the future. Our students are tolerably 
familiar with the fact that the searching of the spirit, 
and the cleansing of the heart which culminated in 
the growth of Protestantism in Western Europe were 
contemporaneously working as powerful agents in 
this our own country, and with a similar beneficial 
result. The Christian leaders of modern thought 
protested against the supremacy of t the Latin 
language as a vehicle of expression and thought in 
the schools and churches. They protested agakist the 
excess of the ascetic ideas of the monks of different 
orders, and the necessity of priestly intervention in 

200 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

all rites and ceremonies. They protested against 
indulgences, and they protested against pilgrimages, 
fasts, confessions and casuistry. They protested 
against the. image-worship and relic-worship and 
pompous ceremonies, which did not tend to 
elevate the heart and the mind of man. They 
succeeded in their own time wonderfully, not only 
by the direct effect of their action in their own 
communities, but still more by their reflex effect on 
the Roman Catholic Church, which not only purified 
itself in the struggle and kept up its authority over 
a large part of Europe, but with renewed vigour, has 
again been able to raise its head as the oldest and 
noblest representative of constituted authority in its 
struggle with emancipating reason. The need for 
protest was not over with the century which 
produced Luther and Calvin, Knox and Latimer. 
The established faith has always and everywhere a 
tendency to grow too rigid and authoritative, too 
mechanical and formal to retain the celestial fire 
pure and burning. The Puritans and the Covenanters 
of the seventeenth and the Wesleyans and Methodists 
of the last century are all valuable only as protests 
against the weakness and corruption of the esta- 
blished order of things. I need not pursue this 
topic further here, as my main concern is to trace 
the growth of the Protestant movement in our own 
country. With a view to prevent misapprehensions 
I . may j at once state, for the information of my 
audience, that I have based my own history of this 
movement on the biographies of saints and prophets* 

Hindu Protestantism. 201 

not written by any one of us, but by writers such 
as Nabhaji, Uddhav-Chidghan, Priyadasa, and rendered 
familiar to us by Mahipati's great work written more 
than a century ago. Mahipati's collection makes us 
acquainted with the history of one hundred saints 
and prophets, out of which about fifty are from 
Maharashtra, and the rest from other parts of India. 
The saints and prophets, it may be noted, * include 
about ten women, and as many Mahomedans, and 
the rest, about eighty, comprise about an equal 
number of Brahmins and non-Brahmins,- and among 
these last are representative men of all castes and 
creeds : butchers, spinners and weavers, goldsmiths, 
barbers and mahars, kings and farmers, bankers and 
soldiers. This is the most noteworthy feature of the 
leaders of the Protestant movement in India. No 
country in the world can present such a galaxy of 
p'ure and pious men born in humble circumstances, 
who struggled and strove for the cause, and won it 
not by - their own strength, but by their humility. 
The genuinely natural character of the movement is 
attested by the fact that it spread to all classes and 
touched all hearts, both of men and women, and of 
Hindus and Mahomedans alike. There is always good 
reason for despondency and despair, so long as any 
movement is not so general in its character. This 
has been the weakness of the Samaja movement, bottt 
of our own and of the Arya and Brahma Sajnaja, 
that they have failed as yet to stir the heart -of 
the nation, and their influence is only operative 
over a few souls brought up in a particular 

202 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

atmosphere. It is on this account that the study of 
this old history becomes to us a matter of 
paramount importance. These one hundred men 
immortalized f by Nabhaji and Uddhav, Priydas and 
Mahipati, cover a period of five or six hundred 
years, and even yet the stream has not been dried 
up altogether. We have next to see what were the 
principal features of the protest that these men raised 
each in his own place and time, each in his 
own manner and method. Their struggles led 
to neither wars or bloodshed nor persecutions, 
inquisitions, or banishments. They worked silently 
as God's spirit works in us, silently but surely. 
These men protested against the supremacy 
of the old Sanskrit language as a vehicle of 
learning, and they enriched, each in his own 
time, the stock of their vernacular treasures. The 
battle of the Vernacular against the Classics is 
not of our own time only. It is an old, old 
struggle. Pandits pounced upon Ekanath and 
Tukaram for daring to popularize the old learning 
so as to make it accessible to the meanest of the 
mean. The story of the drowning of Ekanath 
and of Tukaram' s works at the bidding of the 
Pandits is well known. The same struggle was 
maintained by Ramdas against Wainan and by 
Rasal agaipst Namadev. The -Saints con- 
quered in the end, and so far the growth of 
the vernacular in each province of India has been 
the measure of the growth of the protestant 
Clement in that province. The protest was raised 

Hindu Protestantism. 203 

by these men against the tendency to exaggerate 
the importance of rites and ceremonies as helps 
to the growth of the religious spirit. Rites and 
ceremonies are after all symbols, anj. if their 
symbolical character is not vividly presented to 
the mind, they obscure the religious vision, and 
usurp the place of the purity of heart and of 
true devotion for which they were intended* to be 
auxiliaries only, and not masters. Nearly everyone of 
the saints worked for righteousness in this direction, 
and it would take too long if I were to enumerate the 
triumphs they achieved, Jesus' protest against the 
Pharisees and Sadducees was reproduced in the 
lives of every one of these men in their struggles 
with orthodoxy and Brahminism. Their success in 
this department has not been equal to that which 
they achieved in breaking down the monopoly 
of Sanskrit learning, but anybody who can read 
our Smrities and religious ordinances and compare 
their strictness with our present customs and 
practices, can alone measure the greatness of the 
work already achieved. The third protest raised by 
these saints was against the hokl of the Yoga 
system of austerities and the supposed powers it 
conferred on the Yogi of performing -wonders. In this 
direction the success is almost complete. Our 
countrymen have learned to discern the vanity of 
their foolish attempts to strive after occult power, 
which even, when possessed in full, means ::o real 
gain. The contrast exhibited in the lives of 
Dnyandev and Changadev, and of Dnyandev himself 

204 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

and Namdev, typifies this feature of the protestant 
movement with remarkable accuracy, and leaves 
nothing to be desired. The fourth feature of the 
movement rwas directed against the relaxation of 
the strictness of caste rules and distinctions. The 
inclusion of mahars and barbers, cobblers and butchers, 
the inclusion of women and Mahomedans among 
the saints, represented an enlargement of view to 
which you will scarcely find a parallel elsewhere. 
The lives of Ekanath and Kabir, - Ramdas and 
Tukaram, typified the highest efforts of true religion in 
this direction. The success here is not so permanent 
and assured as in other respects, but still much 
ground has been gained. The next protest was 
raised against cruelty and impurity, against animal 
and human sacrifices, against the worship of cruel 
deities and the performance of Shakta rites. ,The 
success here is complete. The next ground of 
protest was equally strong against Polytheism, though 
not against idolatry, except in the advanced sects 
of Nanak and Kabir. The saints were practically 
worshippers of one God, and their efforts not to 
admit a multiplicity of rival gods was heroic. The 
protest was equally loud in favour of proclaiming 
that God was a Joving God, and that his spiritual 
Providence cared for the meanest of His creatures 
with more ff than a mother's and father's love. This 
sense of a loving God who spoke to and walked 
with, and comforted the worshippers, that sense is 
our richest treasure, though the stories told of this 
inter-communition with men have been often of 

Hindu Protestantism. 205 

a very grotesque character. These then are the 
points in which Indian Protestantism has done us 
service, and if we are true to our gieat ancestors, 
this is the work and these are the lines on 
which we should carry on the struggle. Coming 
in contact with Mahomedans the Hindu Protestant 
Saints made converts of thoughtful Mahomedans 
by making concessions which implied an* unity 
of Providence, whether it was called Rama or 
Rahim. We have come in contact with Christianity 
and we have our own concessions to make. But, 
whatever we give in or take from our sur- 
roundings, one thing we must never forget that 
it is not a movement started by a few English 
educated natives, and that its founder was this or 
that man in Bengal or the Punjab. The movement 
is Bolder than Modern India, and it is not confined 
to the English educated classes in the towns. Its 
roots lie deep in our history and we must study it 
there all along the line if we want to understand 
how we really stand, and whither we have to go. 
Authority in matters of faith is as essential as 
authority in matters of secular happiness. Authority 
is not a creation of the imagination. We cannot 
create the same which teaches us. to bow to noble 
and good men of the past, and we cannot dispense 
with their help. We must seek them as l our guides. 
Our domestic guides are in such matters to. be 
preferred to foreign guides, because these last h-\ve not 
been the flesh of our flesh, and the bone of our bone. 
If we would bear that in mind and work the movement 

206 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

on the lines of the Bhagawata Dharma in the times 
to come, success is sure, because it is His work, 
and He will carry it through by the hands of poor 
men if only we swear fealty to Him and hold by 
Him through good and bad report. 

N.B. The substance of this Paper is made up from 
the notes of the lecture taken at the time by a sympathe- 
tic friend. It, however, fails to reproduce the fulness of the 
treatment contained in the original address. In fact, 
Mr. Justice Ranade had deemed it necessary 011 this 
account to treat this subject in a more systematic manner 
in one of the chapters, u The Saints and Prophets of 
Maharashtra,'^ in his " History of the Rise of the Maratha 
Poiver^ Extracts ftom the said chapter are with the 
authors permission, attached hereto, for a fuller elucidation 
of^ the subject. EDITOR. 

We propose in this chapter to trace in rough 
outline the history of this religious upheaval in 
Western India. Our main sources of information 
will be the voluminous biographies of the saints and 
prophets of Maharashtra, written by one of our own 
poets, Mahipati, towards the close of the last century, 
long before British influence was felt in these parts 
as a factor of any importance. Like the political 
struggle for independence, the religious upheaval was 
also not the work of a single man, or even of a 
.single century. Its early commencement can be 
traced even* anterior to the Mahomedan conquest of 
the Deccan. Under the rule of the Yadav kings of 
Devgiri, Dnyandev, the first saint and prophet of 
Maharashtra, wrote his famous commentary on the 

Hindu Protestantism. 207 

Bhagwadgitlt in the spoken language of the country. 
Mukundraj, who lived under the Ballal Kings, also 
\vrote his famous work, the first of the kind in 
Marathi, in the twelfth century. The Mahomedan 
invasions for a time seem to have paralysed all 
activity, but gradually the national spirit regained its 
healthy elasticity, and just about the time of the rise of 
the Maratha power we had a galaxy of saints and pro- 
phets, whose names have become household words with 
the people of the country. The stream continued to 
flow in full tide for two centuries, and then it appears 
to have dried up, and with its ebb, the political 
domination also became a thing of the past. Roughly 
speaking we may state that the history of this 
religious revival covers a period of nearly live hundred 
years, and during this period some fifty saints rnd 
prophets flourished in this land, who left their mark 
upon the country and its people so indelibly as to 
justify Mahipati in including them in his biographical 
sketches. A few of these saints were women, a few 
were Mahomedan converts to Hinduism, nearly half 
of them were Brahmins, while there were represen- 
tatives in the other half from among all the other 
castes. Marathas, kunbis, tailors, gardeners, potters, 
goldsmiths, repentant prostitutes, and slave girls, even 
the outcaste Mahurs. Much of the interest of this 
religious upheaval is centred in the facts we helve 
noticed above, as they indicate plainly that the 
influence of higher spirituality was not confined to 
this or that class, but permeated deep through all 
strata of society, male and female, high and lov., 

208 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

literate and illiterate, Hindu and Mahomedan alike. 
These are features which the religious history of 
few other countries can match or reproduce, unless 
where the , elevating influence is the result of a 
widespread popular awakening. In Northern and 
Eastern India a similar movement manifested itself 
much about the same time. Nanak stirred up the 
Punjab r to rise, and made a supreme effort to 
reconcile Hinduism with Mahomedanism. Chaitanya 
in the far East sought to bring men back from 
the worship of Shakti and Kali to the faith of 
the Dhagawat ; while Ramanand and Kabir, 
Tulsidas and Surdas, Jayadev and Rohidas, contri- 
buted each in his own way to the work of spiritual 
enlightenment. Their influence has no doubt been 
great and abiding, but it cannot be compared with 
the work done by the saints and prophets of 
Maharashtra. The names of Changd^v and Dnyandev, 
Nivritti and Sopdn, Muktabai and Jani, Akabai and 
V6nubai, Namdev and Eknath, Ramdas and Tukaram, 
Shaik Mahomed and Shanti Bahamani, Damaji and 
Udhav, Bhanudas and Kurmdas, Bodhle Bawd and 
Santoba Powar, K<5shav Swami and Jayaram Swami, 
Narasinha Saraswati and Rangnath Swami, Chokhamela 
and the two pptters, Narahari Sonar and Sa valid 
Mali, Bahiram Bhat and Ganesh Nath, Janardanpant 
and Malopant, and many others that might be cited, 
furnish an array which testifies to the superior efficacy 
of this movement in Maharashtra. The Brahmins in 
these parts furnished a much larger proportion of 
saints and prophets than was the case in any of the 

Hindu Protestantism. 209 

other parts of India where the Kshatriya and Vaishya 
castes furnished a much larger contingent than the 

As is the case with all biographies of saints, 
the popular imagination attributes to these persons 
wonderful and miraculous powers, notably those of 
raising the dead to life, healing the sick and feeding 
the hungry. The stories which are told 'of the 
way in which they were helped by supernatural 
agency in their mission of love may or may not be 
accepted in these days of vigilant criticism. As Mr. 
Lecky has remarked, it is the atmosphere of child- 
like credulity which predisposes men to require and 
accept these wonders and miracles as events of 
ordinary occurrence, The saints and prophets 
themselves did not claim miraculous powers. They 
were meek and suffering men who placed their trust 
in ' Providence, and their trust was justified beyond 
their expectations, often-times to their own surprise. 
The moral interest of these biographies centres 
however, not in their miraculous feats, but in their 
struggles, and in the testimony their lives afforded 
in vindication of the eternal verities of the moral 
law and man's higher spiritual life. It is with this 
aspect of their life that we are more immediately 
concerned in the sequel, and we hope to show that 
in this respect the work they accomplished was 
priceless and blessed beyond all comparison. 

There is a curious parallel between the history 
of the Reformation movement in Western Europe 
and the struggle represented by the lives and 


210 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

teachings and writings of these saints and prophets, 
who flourished about the same time in Maharashtra. 
The European reformers of the sixteenth century 
protested strongly against the authority claimed by 
the priests and the clergy with the Roman Bishop 
at their head. The clergy and the Pope represented 
a tradition of authority which had come down from 
the remote past, and had done signal service in its 
own time in humanising and civilizing the hordes 
of the barbarian conquerors who devastated the 
Roman provinces. In course of time, the priests, 
instead of being the servants, claimed to be masters 
and rulers, with temporal and spiritual powers, and 
intermediaries between God and man. The exercise 
of this intercession was hedged round by numberless 
rites and ceremonies, and in course of time many 
abuses crept in and alienated general sympathy. 
These abuses assumed their worst forms about the 
time that Luther rebelled against the authority which 
issued indulgences and levied Peter's Pence, not as 
charity, but as a tax to subserve the temporal power 
of intriguing Popes and their vicious Cardinals. The 
Reformation in Western India had its counterpart in 
this respect. Ancient authority and tradition had 
been petrified here, not in an ambitious Bishop and 
hjs clergy, but in the monopoly of the Brahman 
caste, and <it was against the exclusive spirit of this 
caste domination that the saints and prophets 
Struggled most manfully to protest. They asserted 
the dignity of the human soul as residing in it 
quite independently of the accidents of its birth and 

Hindu Protestantism. 211 

social rank. The circumstances of their own birth 
and education naturally predisposed some of these 
preachers to take up such a position. As observed 
above, nearly half of them were of caster, other than 
Brahmans, and some of them of very low castes 
indeed. Many of the Brahman reformers 
also had some stain in their inherited purity 
which led or forced them to rebel against 
all artificial restraints. Dnyandev and his 
brothers and sister Muktabai were born to their 
father after he had retired from the world and be- 
came a Sanyasi, monk. His spiritual guide, Rama- 
nand, came to know that this Sanyasi had not 
obtained his wife's willing consent to a change of 
Ashram, and he ordered him to go back to his 
native place and live with his wife. The children so 
born to the Sanyasi became marked objects of caste 
aversion, and the Brahmans refused to perform the 
Initiation ceremony when the brothers reached the 
proper age. The children remained in this unrecognised 
condition all their life, and were revered notwith- 
standing this defect in their caste respectability. 
Another saint, Malopant, was married to a low-caste 
girl, whose caste was not discovered till after the 
marriage, and the husband did not abandon her, but 
only held no intercourse with her, and when on 
her death, he performed her death-rites as usual, a 
miracle was displayed which satisfied his worst 
enemies, that Malopant and his Mahar wife were 
both holy by nature. Jayaram Swami's master, Krish- 
nadas, was similarly married to a barber girl, and 

212 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the inferiority of her caste was discovered after 
marriage. The holy life of the man had, however, 
such an effect that at last, after much persecution 
even the %igh priest Shankaracharya of the day 
raised no objection. Eknath, it is well known, 
made no secret of the little importance he attached 
to casje distinctions. He fed a hungry MahAr at 
his house, and, when out-casted, allowed himself to 
be taken to the river for purposes of purification, 
when a miracle took place by which the merit of 
feeding a hungry Mahar was proved to be far 
greater than that of feeding many hundred Brah- 
mans, for the former merit cured a leper of his foul 
disease, when the latter failed to make any impres- 
sion on him. A very common miracle is reported 
to have been performed by many of the saints, not- 
ably by Dnyandev, Eknath, and Nagnath, when, on 
the refusal of the Brahmans to officiate on Shraddha 
ceremonies in their places for breach of caste regu- 
lations, the deceased fathers of the obstinate Brahmans 
were made to descend to earth, and shamed their 
incredulous sons into the belief that their caste exclu- 
siveness was Wholly out of place. In Namdev's 
biography, his God of Pandharpur, who had allowed 
Namdev to invfte Brahmans to a feast and himself 
partook of that feast with the saint, was Himself 
excommuificated, and then the story relates how 
Dnyandev, who was present in spirit, remonstrated 
with* the Brahman persecutors. 

He said : There was none high or low with 
God. All were alike to him. Never entertain the 

Hindu Protestantism. 213 

thought that I am high born, and my neighbour 
is low of birth. The Ganges is not polluted, nor is 
the wind tainted, nor the earth rendered untouchable, 
because the low born and high born bathe in the 
one, or breathe the other, or move on the back of 
the third. 

The most touching incident, however, is that 
which occurred in the persecution of the Out-caste 
Mah&r Chokhamela for his having dared to enter 
the temple of Pandharpur. When remonstrated with 
for his temerity, Chokhamela replied that his God 
took him inside by force, and he did not go of his 
own accord. He remonstrated with the Brahman 
worshippers of the temple in this strain What 
availeth birth in high caste, what availeth rites or 
learning, if there is no devotion, or faith ? Though 
a man be of low caste, yet if he is faithful in 
heart, and loves God, and regards all creatures as 
though t they were like himself, and makes no dis- 
tinction between his own and other people's children, 
.and speaks the truth, his caste is pure, and God is 
pleased with him. Never ask a man's caste when 
he has in his heart faith in God, and love of men. 
God wants in his children love and devotion, and 
he does not care for his caste. The Brahmans, as 
might be expected, were not converted by this 
preaching of high wisdom, and they complained 'to 
the Musalman officer of the place, and he, like 
another Pilate of the Bible story, ordered Chokha- 
m&a to be punished by being tied to and driven 
bv a team of bullocks, and tortured to death in 

214 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

this cruel fashion. God, however, miraculously 
delivered his worshipper, and baffled the oppressors, 
for the bullocks would not move from their place. 
The story of Bahiram Bhat is also interesting in 
this connection. Being a Sh&stri, he did not find 
rest in Brahminism, and therefore became a Maho- 
medan under the impression that its monotheism 
would satisfy the cravings of his heart, but failing 
to find the satisfaction he desired, he returned back 
to Brahminism. Both Brahmans and Mahomedans 
found fault with him for these changes of 
faith, but he disclaimed being either Hindu or 
Mahomedan. Bahiram Bhat challenged the Brahmans 
to make him a true Brahman as long as his cir- 
cumcision mark was not removed, and he challenged 
the Mahomedans to fill up the holes in his ears, which 
showed that he was still a Hindu. The Mahomedan 
converts to Hinduism, represented by Shaik Mahomed's 
followers even to this day observe the Ramjan fasts 
and the Ekadashi fast, and make pilgrimages td Mecca 
as also to Pandharpur. There are many other saints 
of great renown who, like Kabir, Nanak and Manik 
Prabhu, are claimed both by Hindus and Mahome- 
dans as belonging to their respective communities, 
and worshipped and reverenced as such by both. 
These examples will suffice to show how the lives 
of these men have tended to elevate the national 
conception of man's spiritual nature, and shake the 
hold of caste intolerance. 

The result of all this elevated teaching is seen 
in the fact that caste exclusiveness now finds n6 

Hindu Protestantism. 215 

place in the religious sphere of life, and it is relegated 
solely to the social concerns of men, and even there 
its restrictiveness is much relaxed, as any one can 
judge who compares the Brahmans of Southern India, 
with their exclusive caste prejudices, and their 
abhorrence of even the shadow of the lower castes 
defiling Brahman streets, with the comparative 
indifference shown in such matters in the* Deccan 
portion of Mah&rashtra. This feeling of indifference is 
most accentuated at the time of the annual Pandharpur 
pilgrim gatherings, and the mixed greetings with which 
the Lord's Feast is celebrated on the last day. Just 
as in Europe, men ceased to believe that the priest was 
a necessary medium between God and man for 
purposes of salvation, in this part of India, the 
domination of the Brahman caste as the Gods of 
creation, whom the other castes should serve and 
worship, lost much of its potency, and men and 
women^ high and low, came to feel that they were 
free to attain salvation by faith and love in spite of 
their low origin. 

The European reformers protested further against 
the institution of the Monastic Orders, and celibacy of 
the clergy, and the unnatural retirement of women 
who exiled themselves from the jvorld and became 
nuns. There was a counterpart of this same protest 
in the way in which our saints and prqphets raised 
their voice against self-mortification and fasts, 
and meaningless penances and endless pilgrimages. 
The same spirit prompted them to condemn 
austerities practised by those who followed the Yoga 

216 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

system with a view of acquiring the power of working 
wonders which, it was supposed, the Yogis enjoyed 
in consequence. This contest between Yoga and 
Bhakti is \jrell illustrated by the encounter of the 
proud Changciev with Dnyandev, when the former, in 
reliance on his Yoga powers, rode on tigers, and 
used serpent whips, and was put to shame by 
Dnyandev riding on a wall. There was a similar 
encounter between Dnyandev and Namdev, when the 
former, by the exercise of Yoga powers, became 
small in size, and drank the waters of a deep well, 
while Namdev, by his devotion, brought the waters 
to overflow the well for all time, so that all who 
passed by, and felt thirsty, might drink to their 
hearts' content. These stories most beautifully typify 
this feature of the teaching of the saints and prophets 
of Maharashtra. 

The story of Kanoba Pathak, who was upbraided 
by a Brahman of Benares for his inordinate love of 
children, and astonished his critic by throwing away 
his child into a well with seeming indifference, 
illustrates the vanity of the vows of celibacy, which 
cannot by themselves produce equableness of mind, 
and indifference to pains and pleasures. Eknath all 
his life lived with, his wife and children, and so did 
Turkaram and Namdev, though they were not 
blessed withd sympathetic female relations. Bodhhale 
Bawa, Chokham&a, Damajipant, Bhanudas, the two 
potter .saints, and many others lived in the midst 
of their families. Dnyandev's father, who had become 
Sanyasi without obtaining the free consent of his 

Hindu Protestantism. 217 

wife, was directed by Ramanand to return to his 
home, and live with his wife. All these incidents 
prove that a very high conception of the sanctity 
of family-life was realised by these saints and 
prophets, and they did their best to correct the 
national weakness which shrinks from trouble and 
anxiety by retiring from the world's conflict. The 
lives of the female saints have a special interest in 
this connection. The biographies relate that owing 
to their devotion and implicit faith, God helped them 
out of their difficulties by assisting them in their 
daily household work, and by assuming strange 
disguises, permitted them the freedom they wanted 
to serve him without being missed by their jealous 
relations. There is a danger in all such stories of 
making Providential intervention too cheap, but t>his 
fault is more than balanced by the high moral 
which underlies these accounts. The sanctity 
of married and family life was nobly vindi- 
cated by these saints and prophets, and this 
was a signal moral triumph over the past traditions 
of asceticism. 

All students of modern European history are 
aware that the Reformers achieved their most per- 
manent success in the liberation of tjie national intellect 
from the thraldom of scholastic learning, and the 
oppressive preponderance of the classical Latin, in which 
all the best books were till then written. The Bible 
was, by the help of these Reformers, for the 
first time made -accessible to all, high and low, and 
the monopoly of learning, till then enjoyed by the 

218 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

priests, was shaken to its foundations. Here, in India, 
the process of liberation was carried out on the 
same lines. The professors of the old Sanskrit 
learning found for the first time, to their great 
surprise, that nhe saints and prophets addressed the 
people, both in speech and writing, in their own 
vernacular, and boldly opened the hitherto hidden 
treasures * to all and sundry, men and women, 
Bnihmans and Shudras, alike. The final victory was 
not achieved without much struggle and consi- 
derable suffering. Dnyandev was the first adventurer 
to stray into these forbidden regions, and his example 
was followed by Eknath and Ramdas, Namdev and 
and Tukaram, Vaman Pandit and Mukteshwar, Shridhar 
and Moropant. These last four gifted men are more 
celebrated as authors and poets than as religious 
teachers, but they derived their inspiration from the 
same sources. It is true the Vedas and the Shdstr&s 
were not translated as the Bible was, but there was 
a sufficient reason for this difference. These early 
Marathi writers knew that modern India, after the 
Buddhistic revolution, was less influenced by the 
V&das and Shasjras than by the Ramdyana and 
Mahabharata, the Bh&gawata Purana and the Gita> 
and these latter .works were translated and made 
accessible to all. The pioneers in this field, Eknath 
and Tukaram, were each made to bear the brunt of 
Brahman opposition. Their works were not burned 
as- in ^urope, but they were ordered to be thrown 
into water. The river gods, however, so the story 
runs, would not let them be destroyed, and the works 

Hindu Protestantism. 219 

remained dry and would not sink, and thus became 
more famous than ever. Vaman Pandit, the great 
Sanskrit scholar, who would not deign to speak 
or write in the popular language, as unfit to 
be used by a Pandit, was, when brought in contact 
with Ramdas, made to see the error of his 
ways ; and a Brahman translator of the Rdmayana 
named Salya Rasal, w r ho was over-prouA of his 
superior learning, was similarly put to shame by a 
message from his goddess that he should get the 
work corrected by submitting it to the revision of 
the tailor Namddv. Dnyand6v also was made the 
instrument of performing a miracle, by which a 
buffalo was said to have recited the Vedas by 
heart. This story is obviously an allegorical parody 
of the mental condition of those who prided 
themselves upon their ability to recite the Vedas 
without understanding their contents. 

The struggle between the claims of the Classical 
Sanskrit- and the Vernaculars, of which we hear so 
much in these days, is thus an old conflict, the 
issues in which were decided in favour of the 
Vernacular or living languages long ago, and whatever 
scholars and antiquarians may urge to the contrary, 
there can only be one answer to the question, the 
answer which was given by the saints and prophets 
when they laid Sanskrit aside as useless for their worK 
and spent all their energies in the cultivation and 
growth of their mother tongue. It may safely be said 
that the growth of the modern vernaculars in India 
is solely the result of the labours' of these saints, and 

220 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

that the provinces which showed most decided 
tendencies in the way of reform, also showed the 
most healthy development of their vernacular 

The Protestant reformers in Europe achieved 
another change of great importance in the way in 
which they raised their voice against the excesses 
to which image-worship and saint-worship were 
carried in the Roman Catholic Church. On our side, 
also, this protest was raised, but it did not assume 
the iconoclastic form which the Protestant reformers, 
especially the stricter sect among them, adopted. 
Polytheistic worship was condemned both in theory 
and in practice by the saints and prophets of 
Maharashtra. Each of them had his own favourite 
form of the divine incarnation, and this worship of 
one favourite form left no room for allegiance to 
other gods. Ramdas, for instance, worshipped God 
under the name of Rama ; Ekandth and Jayaram 
Swami worshipped Him under the name of Krishna, 
Tukaram, Chokhdmela and Namd&v under the name 
of Vithoba ; Narahari Sonar and Nagnath under 
the name of Shiva ; Janardan Swami and Narasinha 
Saraswati under the name of Dattatraya; Morya Gosavi 
and Ganeshnath under the name of Ganpati, and so 
on for the rest. Strange stories are told in these 
biographies of the way in which the saints, when 
they visited other shrines, refused to see the image 
in the form in which they did not worship God, 
and as a consequence the image manifested itself to 
them in the form fiamiliar to them. The supremacy 

Hindu Protestantism. 221 

of one God, One without a second, was the first 
article of the creed with every one of these saints, 
which they would not allow anybody to question 
or challenge. At the same time, as observed above, 
the iconoclastic spirit was never characteristic of this 
country, and all the various forms in which God 
was worshipped were believed to merge finally into 
one Supreme Providence or Bramha. This* tendency 
of the national mind was a very old tendency- 
Even in Vedic times, Indra and Varun, Marut and 
Rudra, while they were separately invoked at the 
sacrifices offered for their acceptance, were all re- 
garded as interchangeable forms of the One and 
supreme Lord of creation. This same tendency 
explains the comparative indifference with which the 
saints and prophets treated the question of inaage- 
worship. It is a complete misunderstanding of their 
thoughts and ideas on this subject when it is repre- 
sented that these gifted people were idolaters in the 
objectionable sense of the word. They did not wor- 
ship stocks and stones. In V6dic times there was 
admittedly no idol or image worship. It came into 
vogue with the acceptance of the incarnation theory, 
and was stimulated by the worship of the Jains and 
Buddhists of their saints. Finally, it got mixed up 
with the fetish worship of the aboriginal tribes, who 
were received into the Aryan fold, ^and their gqds 
were turned into incarnations of the Aryan deities. 
The saints and prophets, however, rose high' above 
these grovelling conceptions prevalent amongst the 
people. Idol worship was dgnofcnced when the image 

222 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

did not represent the Supreme God. Both Tukaram 
and Ramdas have spared no words in denouncing 
these aboriginal and village gods, and their frightful 
rites and sacrifices. In the life of Bhanudas, it is 
stated that h told the King of Vidyanagar that the 
Goddess he worshipped served his God at Pandharpur 
in a menial capacity as a sweeper, and the king 
found it to be the truth when he visited Pandharpur. 
In the lives of two other saints, it is stated that the 
Goddess Kali, to whom human and animal sacrifices 
were offered, was so frightened by the protest of 
the saints in the name of Hari against such cruelty, 
that the sacrifices were given up by the command 
of the Goddess, not only for the time, but for all 
time. These illustrations will serve to show in 
what light image-worship, as an aid to devotion, 
was utilised by these saints, and unless this distinctipn 
is borne in mind, it will be impossible to understand 
the true position occupied by these teachers in, this 
important matter. 

There is one point, however, in which the 
reforming saints and prophets in this country differed 
essentially from thoe who were working in the same 
cause elsewhere, the contemporary Protestant reform- 
ers in Europe. From the V6dic times downwards, 
the Arydn gods have been gods of Love and 
Brightness, of < sweetness and of light. There were, of 
course, terrible gods also, such as Varun and Rudra, 
who inspired awe and filled the mind with terror. 
But the national tendency was to dwell with 
affection on and contemplate chiefly the bright side 

Hindu Protestantism. 223 

of divine Providence, unlike the Semitic idea which 
dwelt upon the terrific manifestation of a distant God 
whose glory could not be seen save through a cloudy 
a severe Chastiser of human frailties, and a Judge who 
punished more frequently than He Awarded, and 
even when He rewarded, kept the worshipper always 
in awe and trembling. This conception lies at the 
root of all Semitic religions, and it is to the credit 
of Christianity that it attempted and partly succeeded in 
bridging the gulf by securing the intervention 
of God incarnate in the flesh, as Jesus Christ, who 
suffered for mankind and atoned for their sins. This 
intervention was never found necessary in the Ayran reli- 
gions of Greece or Rome, or of India. God with us has 
always been regarded more as a father and a mother, 
a brother and a friend, than a judge and a chastiser 
and a ruler. Not that He does not judge, or rule; 
but He judges, rules, and chastises with the love of 
a father or a mother, ever ready to receive the repentant 
prodigal, son back into his arms. The orthodox 
Brahminical conception does not bring out this 
feature of a kindly Providence so prominently as it is 
found to be realised in the teachings and life's 
experiences of our saints and prophets. They are 
emphatc in their assertions that they were able to see 
their God, and hear His words, and walked and talked 
with Him, and held intercourse with Him. ^In their higher 
moments they, no doubt, describe Him as One Whc 
did not speak, but their most normal condition of 
mind was one of satisfaction when they realised His 
presence as we realise the presence of sensible 

224 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

things. The Yogis and the V6ddntis only talk in 
their waking dreams of being one with God, but 
Namdev and Tukaram, Eknath and Dnyandev, were 
not content with this distant and difficult union, 
which did not last during all the moments of their 
conscious life, and compared their own happiness in 
such daily intercourse with God as being above all 
the attainments of Yoga and Veddnt. We may 
believe the miracles ascribed to these saints or dis- 
believe them, but we cannot disbelieve their empha- 
tic statements on this point. All the love that in 
Christian lands circles round the life and death of 
Christ Jesus has been in India freely poured upon 
the intense realisation of the every-day presence of 
the Supreme God in the heart in a way more 
convincing than eyes, ears or the sense of touch 
can realise. This constitutes the glory of the saints, 
and it is a possession which is treasured up by our 
people, high and low, men and women, as a solace 
in life beyond all value. 

As a consequence of this conception of God's 
relations with man, the supreme efficacy of devotional 
Love, Bhakti, over all other methods of attaining to 
His knowledge became the cardinal creed of these 
Vaishnav sects. There is not a life in all these 
sketches drawn by Mahipati in which Bhakti and 
Faith, Bh&wa, are not emphasized as being far 
superior in virtue to all other forms of worship, 
such ' as the performance of rites and ceremonies of 
external' worship, pilgrimages and ablutions, self- 
mortifications and $asts, learning and contemplation. 

Hindu Protestantism. 22& 

These have relation only to the body or the mind, 
while the Spirit is what God desires to see engaged 
in His service, The rites and ceremonies may be 
performed as indifferent matters, just as food may 
be taken and thirst quenched, and the } rest of sleep 
enjoyed, as they come naturally without effort or 
unnecessary anxiety about them. The best ablution 
is when the senses are drowned in the ocean of 
God's presence about us, and the same presence is 
made to fill us inside and out. The best sacrifice 
and the highest Dana or gift is when we surrender 
ourselves to His sweet will and for His service, and 
claim nothing as our own. The best mortification is 
that which makes the spirit humble before Him, the 
best contemplation is when His glory is sung with 
all our powers. Neither knowledge nor Yoga powers, 
health nor wealth, nor children nor possessions, not 
even Mukti freedom from birth and death, is 
desirable in itself. What is desirable is to be always 
full of love for Him and His works, including all 
creation, men and animals. Namdev cried while 
removing the bark of a tree, because he thought he 
saw blood coming out from the stroke of his axe, 
and he struck himself with the axe to see how he 
felt, and realise what the tree might feel. Shaik 
Mahomed, being sent by his father to practise the 
butcher's trade, first cut his own finder with his 
knife to see how the animal w r ould feel, and the pain 
he felt drove him to forswear his trade, and retire 
from the world in which such pain had to be inflict- 
ed for earning one's livelihood, Tukaram felt that 

226 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

there must be something wrong about him, when, on 
seeing him, the sparrows left the field he was sent 
to watch, though he did not intend to disturb them. 
This intense spirituality and absolute surrender of Self 
may sound (somewhat unreal to men not brought 
up in the atmosphere these saints breathed. But, 
there can be no doubt about the fact, and there 
can alse be no doubt that the national ideal of 
spiritual excellence has been shaped by these models. 
It may be that a stronger backbone and more resisting 
power are needed in the times in which we live, 
but in an account of the saints and prophets as 
they flourished more than two hifndred years ago, 
we cannot afford to interpolate our own wants and 

It may be interesting to note how these 
saints thought and spoke, and how, when they 
came in contact with a militant religion 'like 
Mahomedanism, they faced their troubles and con- 
quered them. The lives of Namdev, R&mdas, Eknath, 
and others are full of such incidents. The most note- 
worthy foct in this connection is that several 
Mahomedans became converts to the Hindu Faith, 
and obtained such a public recognition that their 
help was invoked ft by the Hindu authors who wrote 
in those times, along with the Hindu saints. Shaik 
Mahomed ?nd Kabir may be cited as examples of 
this catholic spirit of recognition. On the other 
h,and, Tukaram and Eknath were so influenced by 
their contact with Mahomedanism that they 


composed verses fn Urdu of so catholic a character 

Hindu Protestantism. 227 

as to be unobjectionable to the strictest Mahomeclan. 
Ramdas did the same when one of his disciples, Udhav 
got into trouble at Bedar. The story of Damajipant, a. 
servant of the Bedar Kings, is well known to all. In a 
time of famine he distributed the Governpent stores of 
grain among the poor, and on being taken to task 
he was relieved by an unexpected remittance of the full 
value of the grain to the King's treasury. T.he saints 
came out well in their struggles with their foreign 
rulers, and they prevailed not by fighting nor by 
resistance, but by quiet resignation to the Will of 
God. There was a tendency perceptible towards a 
reconciliation of the two races in mutual recognition 
of the essential unity of Allah with Rama, and by the 
time Shivaji appeared on the scene, this recon- 
ciliation seems to have been almost complete, though 
occasional outbursts of Mahomedan fanaticism were 
not altogether unknown even then. 

We have thus noticed all the principal features 
of the religious movement, which, commencing with 
Dnyandev who lived in the fifteenth century, can 
be traced to the end of the last century as a steady 
growth in spiritual virtues. It gave ^ us a literature of 
considerable value in the Vernacular language of the 
country. It modified the strictnes of the old spirit 
of caste exclusiveness. It raised the Shudra classes 
to a position of spiritual power and social importance 
almost equal to that of the Brahmans. It gave 
sanctity to the family relations, and raised the status 
of woman. It made the nation more humane,* at the 
same time more prone to hold together by mutual 

228 Essays on Religions and Social Reform, 

toleration. It suggested and partly carried out a plan 
of reconciliation with the Mahomedans. It subordi- 
nated the importance of rites and ceremonies, and 
of pilgrimages and fasts, and of learning and 
contemplation, to the higher excellence of worship 
by means of Love and Faith. It checked the excesses 
of polytheism. It tended in all these ways to raise 
the nation generally to a higher level of capacity 
.both of thought and action, and prepared it in a 
way no other nation in India was prepared to 
take the lead in re-establishing a united native 
power in the place of foreign domination. These 
appear to us to be the principal features of the 
religion of Maharashtra, which Saint Ramdas had in 
view when he advised Shivaji's son to follow in his 
father's footsteps, and propagate this Faith, at once 
tolerant and catholic, deeply spiritual and yet not 



THIS time last year, I had occasion, at the 
inauguration of the Conference held at 
Madras, to speak on the subject of " Southern 
India a hundred years ago." To-day I find myself 
far away in the north, surrounded on all sides by 
the tradititions of a civilization older than the 
oldest known to history, the land of the Aryan race 
settled in India, tracing its descent from the self-born 
Swayambhu Manu, where the Solar dynasty flourished 
for thousands of years, the land of the Ikshwakus, 
of Dilip and Raghu, of Dasharath and the incarnate 
hero Rama, with his illustrious brothers and the still 
more honoured wife Sita, the land where Vasishtha 
and Vishvamitra lived and flourished, the home of 
all that is beautiful and true, and lovely and godlike* 
in Aryan history. This favoured land of yours gave 
birth also in later times, to Shakhya Muni Buddha, 
who has been well described a* the perfection of 

* Address, 4> Indian National Social Conference," Lucknow, 1899. 

230 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

humanity in its highest and noblest development, and 
whose " Wheel of law " still regulates the thoughts and 
feelings of half the human race in its efforts to attain 
beatitude. The south and the north thus contrasted 
together, suggest recollections that are so overpowering, 
that I am tempted on this occasion when we meet to 
inaugurate the work of the Conference at Lucknow, to 
dwell for a few moments on this subject, and I bespeak 
your thoughtful attention to the lessons it suggests. 
Far in the South, which is now the stronghold of 
Brahmanical ideas uninfluenced by outside contact, the 
Aryan civilization no doubt made its way, but it con- 
tinued to be an exotic civilization confined to a 
small minority of Aryan settlers, so few in numbers, 
that they were overwhelmed by the influences of 
the earlier Dravidian dominion. It never made its 
home in those remote regions, and the common 
people continued their adhesion to their old faiths 
under new names. What the effects of this 
subordination were, was depicted in my address at 
Madras in the words of a foreign missionary who 
lived and worked a hundred years ago, and who 
had exceptional opportunities of studying these effects. 
I propose this time to draw your attention to the 
turn which the Aryan civilization has taken under 
the influences represented by the conquest of this 
part of the i country by the Mahomedans, nearly a 
thousand years back. The one factor which separates 
Northem India from its Southern neighbours, is the 
predominant influence of this conquest by the 
Mahomedans, which has left ks mark permanently 

/ am neither Hindu nor Mahomedan. 2:U 

upon the country, by the actual conversion to the 
Mahomedan faith of one-fifth of the population, and 
by the imperceptible but permanent moulding of the 
rest of the people in the ways of thought and belief, 
the like of which is hard to find on the Malabar 
or Coromandel Coasts. I propose to draw my 
materials from the Mahomedan philosophers and 
travellers who visited India, both before 3nd after 
the Mahomedan conquest had changed the face of 
the country. Owing to the absence of the historic 
instinct among our people, we have necessarily to 
depend upon the testimony of foreign historians. 
That testimony is, however, unexceptional, because it 
was for the most part given before the Mahomedan 
domination had effected the separation which dis- 
tinguishes the old India of the past from the 
modern India in which we are now living. This 
domination also separates the line which marks off 
southern India, of which I spoke last year, from 
the north, in one of the most representative centres of 
which we are met here to-day. At the outset, we 
must have a correct understanding of what northern 
India was before Mahmud of Gazni made his 
numerous expeditions for the plunder of its far-famed 
cities and temples, at the commencement of the 
tenth century. Fortunately for us, we have a 
witness to this period of our history in the writings 
of Alberuni, whose work on India was written 
shortly after the time that Mahmud crossed the 
Indus as a conqueror of infidel;. That work has 
been translated by Dr. SachaJ, a professor in 

232 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the Berlin University, and in its English form, is 
now accessible to us all. Alberuni was a native of 
Khorasan, his birthplace being near Khiva. 
Mahmud of Gazni conquered Khorasan, and Alberuni 
had thus to shift to Gazni which was then the seat 
of a flourishing empire, the rulers of which were 
great patrons of Mahomedan learning, Alberuni was 
in special favour with Masand the son of Mahmud, 
and he was thus enabled to travel throughout India, 
where he spent many years, having mastered the Sanskrit 
Language. He was a philosopher by profession and 
temper, and had a special liking for Indian 
philosophy, which he studied with the same care 
and attention that he bestowed on Plato and 
Aristotle. His work on India consists of eighty 
chapters, relating to Religion, Philosophy, Caste, 
Idolatry, Civil Polity, Literature, Science, Mathe- 
matics, Medicine, Geography, Astronomy, Cosmogony, 
Alchemy and Astrology. His took great pains to give 
a full description of all that was known to the Hindus 
under these several heads, and being naturally not a 
bigoted Mahomedan, his book shows that he wrote 
his \vhole work with a single desire to promote the 
cause of true learning. While Alberuni shows a great 
regard for the Hmdu Philosophy, Astronomy, and 
Medicine, he was not slow in finding out the weak 
points of the* Indian character. In his chapters on 
caste and idolatry, in the condemnation he 
pronounces on the want of practical aptitudes of our 
people, and in { their devotion to superstitious 
observances, Alberrni did not spare his censures. 

I am neither Hindu nor Mahomedan. 233 

He contrasted the democratic equality of the 
Mahomedan people with the innumerable divisions 
of the Indian races. He notices the helpless position 
of the women of India, and the filthy customs and 
habits of the people in those days. He gives praise 
to the few educated Brahmans whom he separates 
from the superstitious multitude whose fallen condition 
he deplores. Even among the Brahmans, Be notices 
the verbosity of their writings and the word-splitting 
which passed for wisdom. He notices the greediness 
and tyranny of the Hindu princes, who would not 
agree to join their efforts together for any common 
purpose, and the timidity and the submissiveness of 
the people who, in his expressive language, were 
'scattered like atoms of dust in all directions' before 
the invading Moslems. The prevailing feeling among 
the Mahomedans of the time was that the Hindus 
were infidels, and entitled to no mercy or 
consideration, and the only choice to be allowed to 
them was that of death or conversion. Alberuni did not 
share in these views, but they were the views of his 
master Mahmud of Gazni and of the hordes who 
were led by him on these expeditions. Another 
traveller, Ibn Batuta, a native of Tangiers in North 
Africa, visited this country about a hundred years 
alter Kutubuddin established the Afghan kingdom 
at Delhi. Like him, he was taken into favour b^- 
the then Delhi Emperor, Mahmud Taghlak, under 
whom he acted for some time as a Judge of Delhi. 
Ibn Batnta travelled more extensively than Alberuni. 
He travelled from the extreme w^st of Africa to the 

234 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

extreme east of China, and went round the coast 
from Malabar to Coromandal. He was, however, 
neither a philosopher nor a scholar. His journal of 
travels is interesting, but he did not observe the manners 
and customs of the people with ,the same mastery of 
details that Alberuni's work shows on every page. 
The only points which struck Ibn Batuta in the 
course of his travels through India were the rite of 
Sati of which he was a witness, and the practice of 
drowning men in the Ganges, both of which struck 
him as inhuman to a degree he could not account 
for. He also notices the self-mortification of the 
jogees and their juggleries, in describing which last 
he mentions the fact that in the presence of the 
emperor, he saw a jogee raise his body up in the 
air and keep it there for some time. Another 
traveller, Abder Razzak visited India about 1450 
A.D. His travels lay chiefly in the southern 
peninsula, Calicut, Vijayanagar and Mangalore. The 
narratives of two other travellers, one a Russian and 
the other a Venetian, who both visited India in the 
fifteenth century, are published by the Hakluyt 
Society, and afford most interesting reading. The 
general impression left on the minds of these 
travellers was a respect for the Brahmans, for their 
philosophy and attainments in astrology, but for the 
common people, the vast multitudes -of men and 
women, their sense was one of disgust and 
disappointment. Abder Razzak expressed this feeling 
in his own words in a reply to the invitation of 
the King of Vijayaiaagar. He said to the king, ' If I 

/ am neither Hindu nor Mahomcdan. 235 

have once escaped from the desert of thy love, 
and reached my country, I shall not set out on 
another voyage even in the company of a king. 
In Southern India, these travellers found that both 
men and women besides being black, were almost 
nude, and divided into innumerable castes and sects, 
which worshipped their own idols. This abuse of 
idolatry and caste struck every traveller as the peculiar 
characteristic of the country, and gave them offence. 
The practice of self-immolation, or Sati, and of human 
sacrifices to idols by being crushed beneath the 
temple car are also mentioned. Finally, we have 
the testimony of the emperor Babar, who in his 
memoirs thus describes this country ; ' Hindustan is 
a country which has few things to recommend. The 
people are not handsome. They have no idea of 
the charms of friendly society or of freely mixing 
together in familiar intercourse. They have no genius, no 
comprehension of mind, no politeness of manners, no 
kindness or fellow-feeling, no ingenuity or mechanical 
invention in planning and executing their handicraft work, 
no skill or knowledge in design or architecture. They 
have no good horses, no good flesfy, no good grapes or 
musk-melons, no good fruits, no cold water or ice, no good 
food or bread in their bazars, no baths, no colleges, no 
candles, not even a candlestick. They have no aqueducts 
or canals, no gardens, and no palaces ; in their buildings 
they study neither elegance, nor climate, nor 
appearance, nor regularity. Their peasants and lower 
classes all go about naked tying on only a langoti. 
The women too have onlv a Ian?. ' The onlv ood 

236 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

points which Babar could find in favour of Hindustan 
were that it is a large country and has abundance of 
gold and silver, and there is also an abundance of 
workmen of every profession and trade for any work 
and employment. 

Such was the picture presented to the 
Mahomedans when they entered India through the 
passes in successive hordes for three or four centuries. 
A great portion of the disgust and disappointment 
felt by these Mahomedan invaders may be set down 
to ignorance and the pride of race. At the same 
time, it is always of advantage to know exactly 
how India appeared in its strong and weak points to 
intelligent foreigners, such as those I have mentioned 
above. The question for consideration to us at the 
present moment is, whether in consequence of the pre- 
dominance of the Mahomedans for five centuries, which 
intervened from the invasions of Mahmud to the acces- 
sion of Akbar, the people of India were benefited by 
the contact thus forcibly brought together between the 
two races. There are those among us who think that this 
predominance has led to the decay and corruption of 
the Indian character, and that the whole story of the 
Mahomedan ascendancy should for all practical 
purposes, be regarded as a period of humiliation 
and sorrow. Such a view, however, appears to be 
unsupported by any correct appreciation of the 
forces, which work for the elevation or depression 
of nations. It cannot be easily assumed that in 
God's providence, * such vast multitudes as those 
who inhabit India* were placed centuries together 

/ am neither Hindu nor Mahomedan. 2o7 

under influences and restraints of alien domination 
unless such influences and restraints were calculated 
to do lasting service in the building up of the 
strength and character of the people in directions in 

which the Indian races were most deficient. Of 


one thing we are certain, that after lasting over 
five hundred years, the Mahomedan empire gave 
way, and made room for the re-establishment of 
the old native races in the Punjab, and throughout 
central Hindustan and Southern India, on 
foundations of a much more solid character than 
those which yielded so easily before the assault of 
the early Mahomedan conquerors. The domination, 
therefore, had not the effect of so depressing the 
people that they were unable to raise their heads 
again in greater solidarity. If the Indian races had 
not benefited by the contact and example of men 
with stronger muscles and greater powers, they would 
never have been able to reassert themselves in the 
way in .which history bears testimony they did. 

Quite independently of this evidence of the broad 
change that took place in the early part of the 
eighteenth century, when the Mogul empire went to 
pieces and its place was taken up not by foreign 
settlers, but by revived native powers, we have more 
convincing grounds 'to show that in a hundred ways 
the India of the eighteenth century, so far as {he 
native races were concerned, was a stronger and better 
constituted India than met the eyes of the foreign 
travellers from Asia and Europe who visited it 
between the period of the first five centuries from 

238 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

1000 to 1500. In Akbar's time, this process of 
regenerate India first assumed a decided character 
which could not be well mistaken. No student of Akbar's 
reign will fail to notice that for the first time the 
conception was then realized of a united India in 
which Hindus and Mahomedans, such of them as 
had become permanently established in the country, 
were to lake part in the building of an edifice 
rooted in the hearts of both by common interests 
and common ambitions. In place of the 'scorn and 
contempt, with which the Mahomedan invaders had 
regarded the religion of the Hindus, their forms of 
worship, their manners and customs, and the Hindus 
looked down upon them as barbarous Mlenchas, whose 
touch was pollution, a better appreciation of the 
good points in the character of both came to be 
recognized as the basis of the union. Akbar was 
the first to see and realize the true nobility of soul 
and the devotion and fidelity of the Hindu character, 
and satisfied himself that no union was possible as 
long as the old bigotry and fanaticism was allowed 
to guide the Councils of the Empire. He soon 
gathered about him the best men of his time, men 
like Faizi, Abdul Fazel and their father Mubarak, the 
historians Mirza Abdul Rahim, Nizamudin Ahmed, 
Badauni and others. These were set to work upon 
the translation's of the Hindu epics _and Shastras, 
and books of science and philosophy. The pride of the 
Rajput races was coijciliated by taking in marriage 
the princesses of Jaipur, and Jodhpur, and by con- 
ferring equal or superior commands on those princes. 

I am neither Hindu nor Mahomedan. 239 

These latter had been hitherto treated as enemies, 
They were now welcomed as the props of the empire, 
and Maharaja Bhagwandas, his great nephew Mansingha 
for some time Governor of Bengal and Kabul, 
Raja Todarmal and the Brahman companion of the 
Emperor, Raja Birbal, these were welcomed to courtj 
and trusted in the full consciousness that theii 
interests were the same as those of the Musalman 
noblemen. The Emperor himself, guided by such 
counsel of his Hindu and Mahomedan nobles, became 
the real founder of the union between the two races, 
and this policy for a hundred years guided and 
swayed the councils of the empire. A fusion of the 
two races was sought to be made firmer still by the 
establishment of a religion of the Din-i-Ilahi, in which 
the best points both of the Mahomedan, Hindu, and 
other faiths were sought to be incorporated. Invidious 
taxation and privileges were done away with, and 
toleration for all faiths became the universal law of the 
empire. . To conciliate his subjects Akbar abjured the 
use of flesh except on four special occasions in the 
year, and he joined in the religious rites observed 
by his Hindu queens. In regard to the particular 
customs of the people relating to points where natural 
humanity was shocked in a way to make union 
impossible, Akbar strove by wise encouragement and 
stern control, where necessary, to help the growth 
of better ideas. Sati was virtually abolished by 
being placed under restraint which nobody could 
find fault with. Re-marriage was encouraged, and 
marriage before puberty was prohibited. In these and 

240 Essays an Religious und Social, Reform. 

a hundred other ways the fusion of the races and of 
their many faiths was sought to be accomplished, 
with a success which was justified by the results 
for a hundred years. This process of removing 
all causes of friction, and establishing accord 
went on without interruption during the reigns 
of Akbar, Jahangir and Shahajahan. Shahajahan's 
eldest sor, Dara Sheko, was himself an author of no 
mean repute. He translated the Upanishads, and 
wrote a work in which he sought to reconcile the 
Brahman religion with the Mahomedan faith. He 
died in 1659. This period of a hundred years may 
be regarded as the halcyon period of Indian history 
when the Hindu and Mahomedan races acted in 
full accord. If in place of Aurangzeb, Dara Sheko 
had succeeded to power as the eldest son of Sha- 
hajahan, the ^influences set on foot by the genius of 
Akbar might have gathered strength, and possibly 
averted the collapse of the Mogul power for another 
century. It was, however, not to be so, and with 
Aurangzeb's ascent to the throne, a change of system 
commenced which gathered force during the long 
time that this emperor reigned, Even Aurangzeb 
had, however, to follow the traditions of his three 
predecessors. He could not dispense with Jaising or 
Jaswantsing who were his principal military command- 
ers. In the tfeign of his son, whole provinces under 
him were governed by Rajput, Kayastha and other 
Governors. The revival of fanatic bigotry wa s kept 
in check by the -presence of these great Rajput 
chiefs, one of whom, on the re-imposition of the 

I am neither Hindu nor Mahometan. 241 

Zezia, addressed to the emperor a protest couched in 
unmistakable terms that the God of Islam was also the 
God of the Hindus, and the subjects of both races 
merited equal treatment. Aurangzeb unfortunately 
did not listen to this advice, and the result was 
that the empire built by Akbar went to pieces even 
when Aurangzeb was alive. No one was more 
aware of his failure than Aurangzeb himself, who in 
his last moments admitted that his whole life was 
a mistake. The Marathas in the South, the Shikhs 
in the North, and the Rajput states helped in the 
dismemberment of the empire in the reign of his 
immediate successor, with the result that nearly the 
whole of India was restored to its native Hindu 
sovereigns, except Bengal, Oudh, and the Deccan 
Hyderabad. It will be seen from this that so far 
from suffering from decay and corruption, the native 
races gathered strength by reason of the Mahomedan 
rule when it was directed by the wise counsel of 
those Mahomedan and Hindu statesmen who sought 
the weal of the country by a policy of toleration 
and equality. Since the time of Ashoka, the ele- 
ment of strength born of union was wanting in the 
old Hindu dynasties which succumbed so easily to 
the Mahomedan invaders. 

Besides this source of strength, there can be no 
doubt that in a hundred other ways the Mahomedan 
domination helped to refine the tastes and manners 
of the Hindus. The art of Government was better 
understood by the Mahomedans than by the old 
Hindu sovereigns. The art of war also was sineru- 

242 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

larly defective till the Mahomedans came. They 
brought in the use of gunpowder and artillery. In 
the words of Babar, they " taught ingenuity and 
mechanical invention in a number of handicraft arts, " 
the very nomenclature of which, being made up of 
non-Hindu words, shows their foreign origin. They 
introduced candles, paper, glass, household furniture, 
and saddlery. They improved the knowledge of 
the people in music, instrumental and vocal, medicine 
and astronomy, and their example was followed by 
the Hindus in the perversions of both these latter sciences 
into alchemy and astrology. Geography and history 
and literature were first made possible departments 
of knowledge by their example. They built roads, 
aqueducts, canals, caravansarais, and the post office, 
and introduced the best specimens of architecture, and 
improved our gardening, and made us acquainted 
with the taste of new fruits and flowers. The revenue 
system as inaugurated by Todarmal in Akbar's time, 
is the basis of the revenue system up to the present 
day. They carried on the entire commerce by sea 
with distant regions, and made India feel that it was 
a portion of the inhabited world with relations with 
all, and not cut off from all social intercourse. In 
all these respects, the civilization of the united Hindu 
and Moslem powers represented by the Moguls at 
Delhi, was a 4 distinct advance beyond what was pos- 
sible before the tenth century of the Christian era. 

. More lasting benefits have, however, accrued by 
this contact in the higher tone it has given to the 
religion and houghts of the people. In this respect, 

/ am neither Hindu nor Mahomedan. 243 

both the Mahomedans and Hindus benefited by- 
contact with one another. As regards the Mahome- 
dans, their own historians admit that the Sufi heresy 
gathered strength from contact with the Hindu teachers, 
and made many Mahomedans believe in transmigration 
and in the final union of the soul with the Supreme 
Spirit. The Mohorum festival and saint worship are 
the best evidence of the way in which the Mahome- 
dans were influenced by Hindu ideas. We are more 
directly concerned with the way in which this con- 
tact has affected the Hindus. The prevailing tone 
of pantheism had established a toleration for poly- 
theism among our most revered ancient teachers who 
rested content with separating the few from the 
many, and establishing no bridge between them. This 
separation of the old religion has prevented its higher 
precepts from becoming the common possession of 
whole races. Under the purely Hindu system, the 
intellect may admit, but the heart declines to allow 
a common platform to all people in the sight of God, 
The Vaishnava movement, however, has succeeded in 
establishing the bridge noted above, and there can be 
no doubt, that in the hands of the followers of Ram- 
ananda, especially the Kabirpanthis, Malikdasis, Daclu- 
panthis, the followers of Mirabai, Lord Gauranga on 
the Bengal side, and Baba Nanak in the Punjab in the 
fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries, the followers 'of 
Tukaram, Ekanath and Namdev in the Deccan, Babalalis 
Prananathis, Sadhs, the Satnamis. the Shiva-Narayans 
and the followers of Mahant Rama Charan ot the 
last two centuries this elevation and the purification 

244 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

of the Hindu mind was accomplished to an extent 
which very few at the present moment realize in 
all its significance. The Brahma and the Arya 
Samaja movements of this century are the continuations 
of this ethica 1 and spiritual growth. Caste, idolatry, 
polytheism and gross conceptions of purity and 
pollution were the precise points in which the 
Mahomedans and the Hindus were most opposed to 
one another, and all the sects named above had 
this general characteristic that they were opposed to 
these defects in character of our people. Nanak's 
watchward was that he was 'Neither Hindu nor 
Mahomedan, but that he was a worshipper of the 
Nirakar, or the Formless.' His first companion was 
a Mahomedan, and Mahomedan authors pay him 
the compliment of saying that his teacher was a 
Mahomedan. The Hindus naturally do not admit 
this claim, with reason on their side. There can be 
no doubt that, while calling himself neither Hindu 
nor Mahomedan, Guru Nanak wanted to establish a union 
between the two faiths. Lord Gauranga had also 
Mahomedan disciples. Mahomedan saints like Shaik 
Mahmud, Shaik Farid and Mahmud Kazi were respected 
by both Hindus and Mahomedans. The abuses of poly- 
theism were checked by the devotion to one object of 
worship, which in the case of many of these 
Vaishnava Sects was the Supreme God, the Paramatma, 
and the abuses of caste were controlled by conceding 
to all, Hindus and Mahomedans alike, the right to 
worship and love the one God who was the 
God of all. 

1 am neither Hindu nor Mahomedan. 245 

In the case of the Shikhs, the puritanic spirit 
developed even under persecution, into a coarse 
imitation of the Mahomedan fanaticism directed 
against the Mahomedans themselves ; but in the case 
of the other sectaries, both old and new, 
the tolerant and the suffering spirit o^ Vaishnavism 
has prevailed, breathing peace and good-will towards 

Such are the chief features of the influences 
resulting from the contact of Mahomedans and 
Hindus in Northern India. They brought about a 
fusion of thoughts and ideas which benefited both 
communities, making the Mahomedans less bigoted, 
and the Hindus more puritanic and more single-minded 
in their devotion. There was nothing like this to 
be found in Southern India as described by Abbe Dufyois, 
where the Hindu sectarian spirit intensified caste pride 
and idolatrous observances. The fusion would have 
been more complete but for the revival of fanaticism for 
which Aurangzeb must be held chiefly responsible. 
Owing to this circumstance, the work of fusion was left 
incomplete ; and in the course of years, both the 
communities have developed weaknesses of a character, 
which still needs the disciplining process to be 
continued for a longer time under other masters. 
Both Hindus and Mahomedans lack many of those 
virtues represented by the love of order, and regulated 
authority. Both are wanting in the love of municipal 
freedom, in the exercise of virtues necessary for civic 
life, and in the aptitude for mechanical skill, in the 
love of science and research, in the love of daring 

246 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

and adventurous discovery, the resolution to master 
difficulties, and in chivalrous respect for womankind. 
Neither tne old Hindu, nor the old Mahomedan 
civilization was in a condition to train these virtues 
in a way to bring up the races of India on a level 
with those of Western Europe, and so the work of 
education had to be renewed, and it has been now 
going on for the past century and more under the 
Pax Britannica, with results to which all of us are 
witnesses in ourselves. 

If the lessons of the past have any value, one 
thing is quite clear, viz., that in this vast country, 
no progress is possible unless both Hindus and 
Mahomedans join hands together, and are determined 
to follow the lead of the men who flourished in 
Akbar's time, and were his chief advisers and coun- 
cillors, and sedulously avoid the mistakes which were 
committed by his great-grandson Aurangzeb. Joint 
action from a sense of common interest, and a 
common desire to bring about the fusion of the 
thoughts and feelings of men, so as to tolerate small 
differences and bring about concord these were the 
chief aims kept in view by Akbar, and formed the 
principle of the new divine faith formulated in the 
Din-i-Ilahi. Every effort on the part of either 
Hindus or Mahomedans to regard their interests as 
separate and distinct, and every attempt made by the 
two communities to create separate Schools and 
interests among themselves, and not to heal up the 
wounds inflicted by 'mutual hatred of caste and creed, 
must be deprecated t on all hands. It is to be feared 

/ am neither Hindu nor Mahomedan. 

that this lesson has not been sufficiently kept in 
mind by the leaders of both communities in their 
struggle for existence, and in the acquisition of 
power and predominance during recent years. There 
is at times a great danger of the work of Akbar being 
undone by losing sight of this great lesson which the 
history of his reign and that of his two successors is so 
well calculated to teach. The Conference which 
brings us together is especially intended for the 
propagation of this ' Din ' or ' Dharma, ' and it is in 
connection with that message chiefly that I have 
ventured to speak to you to-day on this important 
subject. The ills that we are suffering are, most 
of them, self-inflicted evils, the cure of which is to 
a large extent in our own hands. Looking at the 
series of measures which Akbar adopted in his time 
to cure these evils, one feels how correct was his 
vision when he and his advisers put their hand on 
those very defects in our natural character, which 
need to be remedied first before we venture on 
higher enterprises. Pursuit of high ideals, mutual 
sympathy and co-operation, perfect tolerance, a correct 
understanding of the diseases from which the body 
politic is suffering, and an earnest desire to apply 
suitable remedies this is the work cut out for the 
present generation. The awakening has commenced, 
as is witnessed by the fact that we are met in this 
place from such distances for joint consultation and 
action. All that is needed i? that we must put 
our hands to the plough, and face the strife and 
the struggle, The success already achieved warrants 

248 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

the expectation that if we persevere on right lines, 
the goal we have in view may be attained. That 
goal is not any particular advantage to be gained 
in power and wealth. It is represented by the 
efforts to attain it, the expansion and the elevation 
of the heart l and the mind, which will make us 
stronger and braver, purer and truer men. This 
is at leas*, the lesson I draw from our more recent 
history of the past thousand years, and if those 
centuries have rolled away to no purpose over our 
heads, our cause is no doubt hopeless beyond cure. 
That is, however, not the faith in me ; and I feel 
sure it is not the faith that moves you in this great 
struggle against our own weak selves, than which 
nothing is more fatal to our individual and collective 
gnr.vth. Both Hindus and Mahomedans have their 
work cut out in this struggle. In the backwardness 
of female education, in the disposition to overleap 
the bounds of their own religion, in matters of tem- 
perance, in their internal dissensions between castes 
and creeds, in the indulgence of impure speech, thought, 
and action on occasions when they are disposed to 
enjoy themselves, in the abuses of many customs in 
regard to unequal and polygamous marriages, in the 
desire to be extravagant in their expenditure on 
such occasions, in the neglect of regulated charity, in 
the decay of* public spirit in insisting on the proper 
management of endowments, in these and other 
matters both comir unities are equal sinners, and 
there is thus much ground for improvement on com- 
mon lines. Of course, the Hindus, being by far 

/ am neither Hindu nor Mahomedan. 249 

the majority of the population, have other difficulties 
of their own to combat with ; and they are trying 
in their gatherings of separate castes and communities*, 
to remedy them each in their own way. But with- 
out co-operation and conjoint action of all communities, 
success is not possible, and it is on that account 
that the general Conference is held in different places 
each year to rouse local interest, and help people 
in their separate efforts by a knowledge of what 
their friends similarly situated are doing in other 
parts. This is the reason of our meeting here, and 
I trust that this message I have attempted to 
deliver to you on this occasion, will satisfy you 
that we cannot conceive a nobler work than the 
one for which we have met here to-day. 


I T is often made a matter of reproach to the 
1 numerous theistic organizations which are spring- 
ing up in all parts of the world, and notably 
so in this country, that they have little or no ele- 
ments in them which correspond to the earnest 
religious wants of mankind, and which will secure to 
them permanent success in their conflict with the 
established religions. Their fundamental beliefs are 
few and indefinite, their solutions of the great 
problems of life and eternity are full of difficulties 
and qualifications, their rise and progress are 
illustrated by no instances of heroic self-sacrifice and 
austere devotion, their precepts, their hopes, and their 
promises, bear no warrant of authority on their face 
to satisfy the religious instincts of the mass of 
mankind. The followers of established creeds 
proclaim with *pride that Pure Theism has. never been 
hitherto the religion of any considerable body of 
people, and there is nothing to show that there are 
better chances for it in the future. If we do not 
dive beneath the surface, or inquire for ourselves, 

A Theisfs Confession of Faith. 251 

and more still, if we take the professed apostles of 
most of these new-born movements at their word, 
it would seem as if there were but too many 
reasons to justify this pride and confidence on the 
part of those who feel themselves secure under the 
wings of one or other of the established religions, 
and refuse to risk their tiny bark on the waters of 
vague speculation. Many enthusiastic leaders of the 
Brahma Samaja movement have been heard deliber- 
ately to declare that the only cardinal points of 
Theism necessary to constitute it a religion of man- 
kind, the only articles of its confession of faith, are 
the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of man. 
These are the only points which it is absolutely 
necessary to hold fast to for purposes of regeneration 
and salvation. And with fifty years of working 
History, our leaders seem content to lisp this same 
story of early childhood. There is no attempt at 
grasping in all earnestness the great religious difficul- 
ties which have puzzled people's faith during all 
time, and driven them to seek rest in revelation. 
Neither the old nor the new sections seem to be 
aware of any such necessity. Religion has only an 
emotional character in their eyes, the difficulty is 
not of the understanding, but of- believing in faith. 
It is not intended by anything that is said here 
to under-rate the importance of tlie work now 
progressing in our part of the world ; but for the 
purposes of the present inquiiy, this fact of .the 
limited and precarious grasp which the Brahma 
leaders seem to possess of the great mass of religious 

252 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

doctrines developed in the course of centuries of 
earnest inquiry by the best minds of all times, 
confirms tne view we have taken before, that the 
theistic movements, both here and abroad, deserve 
in a great measure the reproach which is so 
pointedly cast *in their face by the followers of the 
several established religions. To come nearer home, 
our friends of the Prarthana Samaja seem to be 
perfectly satisfied with a creed which consists 
of only one positive belief in the unity of God, 
accompanied with a special protest against the 
existing corruption of Hindu religion, viz., the article 
which denounces the prevalent idolatry to be a sin, 
and an abomination ; and it is ardently hoped that 
a new Church can be built in course of time on 
such a narrow foundation of belief. To a greater or 
less extent, this same oblivious indifference to the 
great difficulties which stare in his face when an 
earnest inquirer starts upon his search of the domain 
of religious thought characterizes all similar move- 
ments in Europe and America, with a partial 
exception in favour of the Unitarian Church. The 
fact is, that these movements owe their origin to 
an iconoclastic spirit which is dissatisfied with the 
fulness and details, and, as it is called, dogmatic 
assertiveness of established religions, and in the first 
effort of reaction from which stage none of them 
have yet emerged, they necessarily partake of the 
one-sided character stamped upon them by the force 
of their repulsion from existing creeds. Thus and 
thus only can we explain the self-satisfaction which 

A Theisfs Confession of Faith. 253 

good and pious people feel in what they call the 
concern of religion with the emotional side of their 
nature, with the heart alone to the exclusion of the 
reason, notwithstanding the fact that they uncon- 
sciously borrow in an eclectic way their complement 
of intellectual beliefs from the very religions which 
they condemn, though of course, they borrow the 
word without the sanction of the spirit which 
consecrates the word. 

It is time, we think, to venture on an earnest 
attempt to remove this reproach. The doctrines of 
Pure Theism, it may be true, have never con- 
stituted the professed religion of any large section 
of men, but that fact does not dispose of its claim 
in the future. The rites of idolatry, and propitiation 
by visible sacrifice, and the 'duty of religious 
persecution, these and many more beliefs have 
constituted the essential characteristics of all the 
old religions, but long prescription has in no way 
prevented their final banishment ifrom all the more 
advanced faiths of the present age. It is not there- 
fore, true - to say, universally that there has been no 
progress, no change in the religious feelings and 
convictions of the races of the world ; and to be 
sure, there is absolutely nothing ' to shut out such a 
prospect from the future. Nay more, there are 
manifest signs that in a truer sense than at any 
time past, the kingdom of God is near at hand. 

The evidence of history is therefore, not conclu- 
sive, as we have shown before, to dissipate the 
Faith we profess to have in the establishment of 

254 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

a universal kingdom of God on earth below in 
place of sectional churches, and these theistic 
movements now surging up to the surface in all 
quarters of the world are indications in the same 
direction which have no small probative force of 
their own. At no time in the world's history has 
the prevailing religion of the country satisfied all 
the higher* minds in it, a large number have always 
struggled to rise above it to a purer inspiration 
and a holier knowledge. There is no reason why 
this fact should be lost sight of, and if it be 
properly understood, it will not fail to carry the 
conviction that the proud boast of the expounders 
of established religions, that they alone satisfy the 
religious instincts of mankind, and furnish final 
answers to the inquisitions of the Soul, is not 
justified by the facts, that they are not so strong 
inside as the superficial looker-on seems to think, 
and that the comparison alter all is not so decidedly 
unfavourable to the new theistic religion as on a 
first survey it strikes the eye to be. 

It will be also seen on closer inspection that 
the so-called authoritative solutions are really no 
solutions of the difficulties, some of which are simply 
incomprehensible with our limited capacities, and 
that, where th ; e intellect foils to keep its grasp, the 
cLasm cannot be leapt over on the wings -of faith, 
which too often is degraded to stand a substitute 
for ignorant credulity. Faith has a function of its 
own, and we do not under-rate its supreme 
importance. But It is simplv out of nlare whpn it- 

A Theist's Confession of Faith. 255 

is appealed to in vain attempts at making the 
incomprehensible easy of comprehension. 

We propose, then, such a survey for* ourselves^ 
not with the hope of making any original contribu- 
tion to the Philosophy of Religion, but simply of 
bringing together the floating ideas which flit like 
shadows before the mind's eye of most of us, of 
determining the quality of truth which \9 demanded, 
or which it is possible to attain to, in such inquiries, 
of passing under review nearly every question which 
has been discussed or determined with apparent 
finality by one or the other of the established 
religions, of separating those doctrines about which 
certain knowledge may be attained, and unanimity is 
possible, from others which involve the mind in 
helpless contradictions, and thus demonstrate, if 
demonstration were wanted, that further progress in 
those directions is not permitted, and that it is 
simply self-deception to expect people to understand 
these mysteries by force of a so-called faith, or by 
the help of revelation. 

We shall pursue this inquiry according to the 
historical method, the only method which is likely 
to lead to appreciable results. Starting with an 
a priori set of principles, framed after a model of 
our own individual thoughts, would sirpply be begging 
the question, and land us in chaos. We shall best 
illustrate our meaning, if we therefore, commence the 
inquiry by simply laying down 1 the entire range of 
subjects which it is necessary for any definite system 
of religion to have surveyed anc| measured in their 

256 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

depth and height, if it puts forth pretensions to win 
the joint allegiance of human intelligence, and the 
human he f art. As is very natural, theology is on 
all sides connected with the kindred sciences of 
nature and of mind, and the borderland of disputed 
territory is as yet unsettled. We shall, however, 
accept the ascertained results of the respective 
sciences as ^postulated to be true, and try to reconcile 
our conclusions to them as best they may be reconciled. 

What is then the range in its entire extent of 
the Science of Religion ? What is the nature and 
character of the questions which in one or other 
of the established religions and theosophies of the 
world have been started, discussed somehow, and 
determined by the force of reason or by the voice 
of authority ? Before we proceed with the enumera- 
tion, there are two preliminary points to be 
determined : First, the extent and character of the 
assurance of certainty obtainable in the solution of 
these religious difficulties ; and secondly, the inter- 
mediate position which religion occupies between 
Ethics and Metaphysics, in that it is concerned 
equally with both the practical and speculative 
faculties of our nature. All religions founded on 
Revelation bear willing testimony to the fact that 
absolute Certainty, that is, mathematical certainty which 
is* based upoft a hypothetical state of facts, is not 
attainable in these matters, The assent, though it is 
free froqi all consciolis doubt, is based on conviction 
which is not free from liability to error. It is to fill 
up this gap, to grve this double assurance by the 

A Theisfs Confession of Faith. 

sanction of authority, that revelation is deemed 
necessary. This consensus of testimony as to the 
qualified character of the truth certainly attainable by, 
us in these matters, is an important piece of evidence, 
and we gain little by trying to hide this state of 
things from ourselves. Even independently of this 
indirect argument, there are cogent reasons which 
help us to a similar conclusion. The problems of 
religion relate to the unconditioned and the 
transcendental, they concern the infinity of time, 
relate to the origin of things, to the nature and 
character of spiritual existence, and to principles of divine 
government. They are all problems which partake of 
the complex character of social and psychological 
facts, about which absolute certainty in the sense 
specified before is admittedly unattainable, and in t the 
case of these religious difficulties, besides the com- 
plexity of determining causes, we have the additional 
element of the transcendental character of the subject- 
matter . introduced. Though religious knowledge, 
therefore, partakes largely of the character of simplicity 
and directness of a priori truths, yet we frankly 
allow that the assurance of certainty felt is never 
free from doubts and difficulties, and cannot be com- 
pared with the strength of conviction in those 
departments of thought which the a priori philosophers 
think, owe nothing to experience. White we are free 
to allow this point, we must at the same time insist 
that on some points, which may be regarded as the 
cardinal principles of Theism, the certainty of assurance 
is of a very high order indeed, higher than is 

258 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

attainable in social science, in politics, or in ethics, 
and higher far than is actually found sufficient to 
compel and justify men to act in most matters of 
practice. The testimony of the established religions 
may be appealed to with confidence in this respect, 
for, it is on all hands admitted that, independently of 
revelation, the evidence in favour of all the great 
universal truths of religion is very cogent and strong. 
Revelation lends merely further sane tion ; it confirms, 
it ratifies truths already perceived and acknowledged. 
This is its special function. As none of the revelations 
can claim to have an eternal origin, but all have 
had an historical growth and development, being 
limited to particular times, to particular countries, to 
particular tongues and tribes, they are obliged in the 
conflict of their pretensions to allow this common 
ground to each other, and found their own special 
superstructure thereon. 

This point will be better understood in the sequel 
of the argument. What we have said already will 
suffice to indicate the position we take up. It will 
serve as a postulate throughout our argument, and 
will be a sufficient answer to the scoffing sceptic who 
insists upon our removing all doubts out of his way 
before he will yield vp his disbelief. 

The other point, the double-sided character of 
religion as a practical and a speculative system of 
belief and conduct, need not detain us long for the 
present. We simply iwish to guard ourselves from the 
confusion of those who, in their search of reasons, 
end in mistaking metaphysical disquisitions as the 

A TJicisfs Confession of Faith. 251) 

only department of religion worth their serious thought, 
and from the other extremity of those, who, in their 
search of a guide to practical duty, deny the distinc- 
tion between morality and religion, or come to look 
upon a formal set of observances as the essence of 
their system. A glance at the list which follows 
will satisfy the candid inquirer that this double 
relation has been acknowledged in all established 
systems, which is prima fade indicative of a 
strong natural necessity in the constitution of our 
common spiritual nature impelling us in this double 

With these prefatory observations we shall now 
proceed to state the principal Articles of the Faith of 
those who believe on a system of pure Theism as 
underlying all religions and giving to these religions the 
claim they possess upon the allegiance of men of all 
races and creeds. We shall attempt to state these 
positions with as much precision and freedom as the 
subject admits. 

I. The Theist believes that there is a religious 
or spiritual element in our human nature ; that the 
human Soul has spiritual wants and spiritual senses, 
connecting it wuth the world of spirits, and directing it 
to God. The existence of this religious faculty is 
proved by the fact, that in all times cind countries 
and in all races of men, religious worship has prevailed, 
as also from the inner spontaneous moral consciousness 
which each one of us feels, that man is a helpless 
dependent being, dependent upon a power beyond and 
over him, mysterious and sublime. 

260 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

II. The measure of assurance or certainty of 
conviction which men can attain to in matters of 
religious doctrine has not the character of mathe- 
matical demonstration, based on a hypothetical state 
of facts. It is, however, equal to the certainty we 
feel regarding the facts of our consciousness. The 
assurance upon the great and cardinal points of 
religion is, thus, of a very high order, indeed, higher 
than is attainable in social science, and higher far 
than what is found sufficient to make man act in 
most important matters of practice. The questions of 
religion, being of a complex character, like social and 
political facts, and being concerned about transcenden- 
tal things, it is not possible with our limited vision 
to attain to more than the strength of practical moral 
conviction on such subjects. 

III. There are, moreover, some problems in religion 
of the unconditioned and therefore insoluble 
sort, the characteristic quality of which is, that 
the human mind, conditioned as it is,' cannot 
logically conceive either the positive or negative 
position to be exclusively true, and yet cannot pause 
between the two extreme positions. The origin of 
the world, the origin of man, the relation between 
God and the created Universe, between the spirit or 
mind and tl^b world of matter, are some of these 

The Theist hopestly confesses his inability to 
resolve absolutely these problems, for they lie beyond 
the sphere of our limited intellect. But he has 
strong moral conviction on some of these 

A Theisfs Concession of Faith. 261 

points, which is sufficient for the purposes of Life 
and Eternity. 

IV. There are, moreover, other problems the full' 
scope and surroundings of which are not seen by us 
with our present limited faculties, and though as 
regards them, the mind is not reduced to the help- 
lessness of forming no final conclusion, and does 
take up its position intuitively, and ilso on a 
balance of evidence, strongly in one or the other 
direction, the conviction is not free from perplexing 
doubts which cannot be set at rest. The Theist 
accepts this perplexity as a condition of knowledge 
and faith, and reconciles himself to it. The origin of 
evil, physical and moral, the imperfect liberty man 
enjoys, the precise destination of the Soul after its 
separation from the body, and its pre-existence, ' are 
some of the questions which partake of this perplexed 

V. The religious consciousness of mankind has 
two aspects intellectual or speculative, allied to and 
progressive with philosophy, and the practical, which 
is a kin sister to the moral elements of our nature. 
Though there are many systems of theology and 
ethics, there is only one religion and one morality. 
Love of God, and love of man, though practically 
inseparable, spring from two distinct though allied 
elements in our constitution, and as the religious 
element of the two is the more strongly and deeply 
rooted in human nature, it has a great influence in 
forming the moral type or ideal, and lends its sanc- 
tion in securing the practical observance of morality. 

262 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

VI. The Theist believes in the gradual and pro- 
gressive development of the idea which man's religious 
consciousness has formed of the Power beyond us 
which controls man and the world of matter. The 
central idea of Theism, the existence of one God, 
is only gradually grasped as the conditions of the 
highest action of the mind are more and more per- 
fectly developed. 

VII. The Theist believes that the object and scope 
of religion is to teach man to regard God as the 
absolute object of reverence, faith, and love ; to 
inculcate voluntary and self-conscious obedience to the 
law of God as discovered by our instinct, reason, 
conscience, and religious emotions ; to teach man 
partially to attain to God's goodness in his nature 
here ; to realise his relation to God, and to fit himself 
for a higher existence. 

VIII. The Theist believes that our sense of help- 
lessness and dependence implies an absolute God on 
whom this dependence rests. The idea of God is 
therefore, given by reason and intuition, and as such 
is natural. This natural consciousness is confirmed 
by a priori and a posteriori reasonings, and by the 
testimony of history, study of nature, and the dic- 
tates of enlightened conscience. 

This conception of God is a necessity of our 
self-consciousness and involves no contradiction. 
The idea of God thus discovered is, that God 
exists, ?. living being or spirit, exists as one Supreme 
Being, Cause of all Causes, unconditioned in time or 
space, Supreme Ruler of the Universe which is regu- 

A Theisfs Confession of Faith. 

lated by His providence, Pre-eminent in power, 
wisdom, goodness, love, justice, and holiness: Lord, 
Father, Judge, and Moral Governor of all human* 

IX. God is not merely a power or simply a force, 
nor nature in its created or developed state as the 
universe of matter, nor in its potential or seed-like 
form or germ, nor is He the great elements of 
earth, water, fire, air, nor the sun, the moon nor the stars, 
nor the principle in the body of nature. There are 
not many Gods, nor a hierarchy of Gods, nor 
deified good and bad powers, nor principles of light 
and darkness, of matter and spirit, of Prakriti or 
Maya and Purusha. God is One and without a 
second and not many persons, not a triad, nor a 
duality of persons. Neither is He self-absorbed 
Bramha resting in contemplation, and indifferent to 
what happens in the world of matter and spirit. 

X. The Theist believes that the precise charac- 
ter of the relation existing between God and the 
material creation is a mystery which transcends our 
knowledge. Material creation out of nothing is an 
impossible conception ; with our limited vision we 
can neither conceive a time when the universe was 
not, and commenced to be, noi that the Universe 
was co-eternal with God. We can neither hold that 
the Universe is only the expansion or J emanation or 
manifestation of God's extended being, nor that the 
Universe is without any real being, a mere vision or 
appearance, only seen by us objectively distinct by 
reason of our ignorance. The Theist, however, while 

2tf4 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

confessing his inability to solve this mystery, feels 
no doubt that God shapes and regulates nature by 
'His providence, as is evidenced by marks of skilful 
design and kind disposition indicative of an intel- 
ligent being actively presiding over the operations 
and formations* of inanimate and animate matter, and 
giving them existence, motion and life, and control- 
ling themr for His purposes. His influence is thus 
immanent everywhere in space and time, actively, 
vitally, and essentially present everywhere. The perpetual 
growth, decay, formations and renewals of the mate- 
rial world are an exhibition of God's power to the 
senses. The existence, motion and life of matter is 
from God. The various objects of the material, 
organic, and animate worlds, in their involuntary, 
mechanical, chemical, vital, instinctive, and rational 
energies, reveal different degrees of Divine influence 
according to the capacity primarily bestowed upon 

XI. The Theist believes that the human- soul is 
a spirit, that is, has a being by itself, and is not 
a form or activity of matter as physically under- 
stood, that this soul has various powers of percep- 
tion, reasoning, and volition, a feeling of pleasure and 
pain, a sense of right and wrong, &c. That the 
soul is moreover, immortal, and lives after death, which 
separates it from the body. "The Theist does not 
believe that the human soul is one and identical 
with God, and is oiily seen to be distinct through 
human ignorance. The Theist believes that the 
human soul has a distinct and subordinate existence, 

A Theist s Confession of Faith. 265 

and is not an emanation or a reflection of God's being, 
The Theist moreover, believes that there are as 
many souls as there are human beings. While there 
is evidence sufficient for convincing us of the prac- 
tical truth of these several positions regarding the 
soul, the Theist confesses his inability to remove all 
perplexities and doubts regarding them, and lays no 
pretension to the possession of any thorough and 
accurate knowledge regarding the nature or origin, 
existence or the destination of the soul, and its con- 
nection with the Divine Spirit, and whether it was 
created by or whether it was co-eternal with God. 
The Theist believes that, as in the universe of 
matter, God's influence is actively immanent every- 
where, so in the world of spirit does His influence 
form the essence and the life of the human scjul in 
its nobler aspirations and workings. 

XII. The Theist believes that God's will governs 
and regulates inanimate and unconscious matter by a 
scheme of general or uniform providence, and that 
the same Will governs self-conscious and voluntary 
spirits by a scheme both general and of special Providence. 
Both schemes of Providence conduce to the glory of 
God and the welfare of his creatures. This scheme 
of special Providence is, moreover, a moral government, 
and has its sanctions in the misery and happiness 
which follow as the physical consequences of mpral 
or immoral conduct, as also in the satisfaction or 
discontent, degradation, or edification, of the conscience 
within. The fact that God is a moral governor 
in no way conflicts with the voluntary and limited 

266 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

freedom of man's activities, at least so far as we 
have a foresight of their good and ill consequences, 
and can with effort avoid the one and secure the 
other. In this world, these sanctions are not 
uniformly and fully operative, there is often delay, 
there is an apparent impunity to vice, there is 
oftentimes apparent misfortune attending moral conduct. 
This causes perplexity and doubt, but in no way 
disturbs our conviction that the special scheme of 
God's Providence is a moral government. 

XIII. The Theist believes that our present state 
of existence is one of trial and preparation, a state 
of probation and discipline in virtue and piety, quali- 
fying us for a future sphere of existence. There is 
the liability to go wrong, there are temptations in 
our vay, external and internal, which draw us away 
from what we often know to be right and proper. 
This fact shows we are under probation and trial. 
These difficulties, temptations and dangers, require in 
us habits of self-denial and discipline, and submission 
to present pain for future pleasure ; our present state 
is therefore, one not merely of trial, but of discipline 
also. This conclusion is strengthened by the fact 
that we are endowed with the capacity of improving 
ourselves by experience and the growth of the active 
and passive habits, which inculcate self-government, 
as the practical principle of all' virtue, and pious 
submission to God's will. Our present existence is 
peculiarly fitted to be a state of trial and school 
of discipline ; the snares that surround us tend to 
educate us in habits of self-government, and the 

A Theisfs Confession of Faith. 267 

sight of the world and its defects promotes due 
feelings of dependence on God, and the length and 
continuance of temptations contribute to perfect our 
righteous habits. 

XIV. The Theist believes that the soul is immortal, 
and that, according to its deserts in this life, will 
happiness or misery be meted out to it in the 
other world. The particular mode of this dispensa- 
tion is a mystery of the insoluble sort. Whether 
the soul before tenanting this body has passed 
through previous stages of existence, and must pass 
through successive transmigrations hereafter, the 
quality of which is determined by its conduct in 
this life, or whether the soul lies in a state of dormancy 
till the resurrection day, when it shall rise up with 
its human body for judgment, or whether it lies in 
a state of purgatory undergoing purification, as also 
\vhat kind of organism our spiritual being is clothed 
with, and what the pleasures and pains with which it 
is surrounded in its after existence are, these are 
problems over which hangs a dark veil which we 
are forbidden to remove. The Theist confesses his 
inability to form any conception of the regions of 
Heaven and hell, but he feels satisfied that tbe pains 
and the pleasures to be there experienced cannot be 
of a sort which are cognizable through our sensuous 
organism, and his trust in the goodness and m^rcy 
of Providence enables him to hope that, as the 
whole scheme of God's government is intended to 
promote the growth of the soul's capacities and 
perfect its powers, the final consummation of His 

268 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

benevolence will not come in the shape of eternal 
damnation and misery of any one soul in creation. 
The Theist rejects the doctrine of eternal punish- 
ment for the sins of a finite life as inconsistent with 
the existence of a Being who is perfect mercy, justice 
and wisdom. 

XV. The Theist believes that man has a measure 
of free agency sufficient to fix the responsibility of 
his acts on him, and to enable him to achieve by 
effort self-conquest. At the same time, the Theist 
is quite ready to confess that the influences of the 
time and the place he is born in, and of the society 
in which he moves, and early education, and associa- 
tions, and physical temperament in a great measure 
restrain the unconscious freedom of man. These 
restraining influences have been variously represented 
in different religious systems, as Karma or Pralabdha, 
the virtue of influence of acts committed in a 
former state of existence, as the three-fold attributes 
of matter Satwa, Rajas and Tamas, as the conflict 
of good and bad principles, as the compulsion of 
superhuman beings, gods and demons, pulling in 
diverse ways, as the Fates or Destiny. The Theist 
steers midway between the extreme doctrines of 
unrestricted free agency, and fatalism, both of which 
positions are clearly untenable. 

XVI. The Theist confesses his inability to account 
for the existence of moral evil, for what we call 
physical evil is simply the result of our imperfect 
knowledge, except on the supposition that this 
existence is a stage of trial and discipline, which it 

A Theist s Confession of Faith. 269' 

can hardly be if there were no evil in life's way. 
Although free will does not necessarily imply liability 
to sin, the Theist at the same time admits that siji 
exists as a fact, and that it cannot be explained 
away as shadow or negation only, or as mere imperfec- 
tion, or a mistake, or as a quality $f matter, or a 
falsehood, or a delusion. The origin and final cause 
of sin is a mystery which is absolutely insoluble with 
our present vision of the purposes of God's Providence. 

XVII. The Theist believes that the doctrine of 
original sin tainting the soul w r ith an inborn 
corruption, the result of the disobedience of the first 
progenitors of the human race, has no foundation in 
fact, and is inconsistent with our idea of the perfect 
rectitude of God's distributive justice. 

XVIII. The Theist believes that the doctrine that 
God has predoomed from all time some souls to 
bliss, and predetermined others to eternal misery, has 
no foundation in fact, and is inconsistent with the 
perfection of God's character. 

XIX. The Theist believes that there is virtue in 
prayer, and a supreme necessity of holding com- 
munion with God, as a daily duty to edify the human 
heart. We should pray for God's help to guide us 
in life's difficulties, and his light to enable us to see 
the path of virtue and holiness. While it is thus 
our duty to pray, the consummation * of the prayer 
should be entirely left to the disposition of His 
Providence, as knowing what is best for our welfare. 

XX. The Theist believes in the virtue of heartfelt 
and abiding repentance to purify the soul. Instantan- 

270 JSssays on Religious and Social Reform. 

eous or death-bed repentances which leave no 
abiding effect have little or no virtue about them. 
P.epentance, to be of any avail, must be followed 
by a strengthened determination and an increas- 
ed power to resist the temptation our first weak 
submission to which gave occasion to the sorrow. 
It is in this renewed strength in after-endeavours 
that we feel the purification of the soul by sorrow 
and repentance. It is never too late for repentance. 
God's grace in these matters acts with a suddenness 
and an effect none can foresee beforehand, and our 
daily prayer must be to secure the help of this 
grace to lift us up when we fall into sin. 

XXI. The Theist believes than man's salvation is 
effected under God's grace by faith, devotion, prayer 
and submission to God's providence, by the love of 
man and love of God, which these instil into our 
hearts, and by the practice of virtue and piety. In 
the absence of love and devotion he has no faith in 
the virtue of mere repentance, or of works of outward 
charity, of the practice of severe austerities, of the 
knowledge of our true Being and of our real identity 
with God, or of sacrificial rites of worship, though 
the effectiveness of these and various other ways for 
the purpose of salvation has been strongly insisted 
upon in diverse systems of Faith, and they may be 
cultivated with advantage as an aid to salvation. 

XXII. The Theist holds as a cardinal article of 
his faith that all men and women are equally the 
children of God, and in his sight no distinction 
obtains between man and man. It is not for man 

A Theists Confession q/ Faith. 271 

to limit God in his methods. His spirit is abroad 
in all on the earth, and in every nation, he that 
feareth God and worketh righteousness ; s accepted 
of Him. 

XXIII. The Theist believes that when the human 
soul, tried and purified by self-government and 
resignation, acquires habits which enable it, while 
in the body, or on leaving the body, to escape its 
trammels and its lusts, to enter into more intimate 
relation with God, and realise vividly the blessings 
of God's presence and holiness, and recognize Him 
to be the Lord, Father and Judge, in whose service 
the soul is bound by love and admiration, this 
consummation of the soul is salvation. Translation 
into other worlds to enjoy sensual pleasures, or 
absorption into God's essence, or awakening to a 
sense that the human soul is identical with God, or 
gradually sliding into the state of passionless Nirwana, 
these views about salvation held by the votaries of 
different religions are all more or less vitiated, as 
being the result of a too aspiring or sensuous vision, 
and are besides opposed to our own inner con- 

XXIV. The Theist believes that incarnation or 
actual assumption of human flesh by the Divine Spirit 
is both an unnecessary and incredible supposition. God 
sheds his influence with bountiful abundance upon 
favoured men, and these men so exalted incarnate His 
influence. All holy men, the moral heroes and 
martyrs of this world, are of His making,, like the 
clay in the potter's hand, and embody in spirit 

272 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

God's influence or grace. All the different incarna- 
tions may be most consistently explained in this 
manner, aud it avoids the absurdities of immaculate 

XXV. The Theist believes that God reveals himself 
in external nature, and in the inner world of our 
mind, and in history. These are his permanent and 
public revelations. When favoured souls, in all times 
and countries, are born, inspired with a prophet's 
vision, a poet's fire, or a great preacher's eloquence, 
a philosopher's wisdom, or a martyr's self-surrender,, 
then the vision and the fire and the eloquence and 
the wisdom and heroism are Divine, that is, special gifts 
of God, and what these favoured men see, feel 
and teach, and their whole life, are a special 
sort of a higher and a truer revelation in the 
only tenable sense of the word. All other book 
revelations are now merely reflections, and being as 
a matter of course, local and temporary, their value 
is only relative and provisional. 

XXVI. The Theist believes that, when the human 
mind has passed through its fetish and polytheistic 
stages, and attained to the conception of one Supreme 
Spirit presiding over the Universe, the worship of 
idols becomes a folly, and that, with men so advanced, 
the usual defence put forth on behalf of idolatry, 
that it served to steady 'our faith and make us 
realise the Unseen more vividly, is not grounded in 
actijal ' fact. At the same time, the Theist freely 
allows that idolatry is a stage of progress from the 
form of worship of pure and simple - fetishism, and 

A Theist's Confession of Faith. 273 

as such, idol worship renders a service in preventing 
men from sinking lower into savages. When, however, 
the lowest stage has been once passed, an4 men can 
conceive a Supreme Lord of the Universe, the 
practice of idolatry is strictly speaking a degrading 
rite. The associations of idol worship humanize, or 
rather brutalize our conceptions of God. The myths 
which soon gather about it, representing as they 
often do the worst licence that obtains* in human 
society, complete the destruction of all exalting faith, 
by blunting the conscience and deadening the 

XX VI I. The Theist believes that miracles in the sense 
of occasional breaches of the uniformities of Nature 
are both unnecessary and incredible, and that it is 
far more likely that those on whose evidence credit 
is claimed for miracles were misled in what they saw 
or heard, than that the usual course of things was 
interrupted and violated for a moment. The .Theist 
believe^ that the testimony of external signs is of 
little value in matters of faith, that the worker of 
miracles is not necessarily a preacher of Truth, and 
that the continuance of the universe of matter in 
its ordained course, equipoised between all manner 
of distracting forces, is a greater standing miracle in 
favour of Theism than any number of violations of 
this uniform course, supported by> mere human 
testimony can be, which are invoked to establish 
the divine origin of most of the established religions. 

XXVIII. The Theist believes that the practice of 
austerities and the virtues of ascetic life defeats the 


274 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 


main end of our existence in this world. It deprives 
us of the education and discipline of self-government, 
which living in society has a tendency to foster 
in us. Asceticism defeats, moreover, the great end 
of creation. As an institution it is mistake. But 
in the case of individuals, unequal to the world's 
conflict, flight from temptation may be the only escape, 
and if the ascetic devotee improves the occasion, and 
lives a holy life, there is but little reason to find 
fault with such conduct. Retirement from the world 
at the proper season of life may be, .moreover, often 
a duty, after all our worldly engagements are 
fulfilled. At the same time, in a society too much 
given up to self-indulgence and luxury, the example 
of men vowing to spend their manhood in unselfish 
work, and in the practice of poverty, chastity and 
austerities, is good as a protest, and is productive of 
the most salutary consequences. 

XXIX. The Theist believes in the virtue of 
congregational prayer, and regards it as an institution 
which must always supplement private devotions, 
as it quickens ardent faith by the contagion of 
example, disarms men's exclusive pride, and by 
placing us all on the only level we occupy 
in God's sight as his children, habituates us to re- 
gard all mankind as our brethren in God, our com- 
mon Father. / 

XXX. The Theist believes that the institution of 
an organized body of priests is of great use in 
conserving the interests of religion. The organiza- 
tion of a hereditary priestly caste, or a close bodv 

A Theisfs Confession of Faith. 275 

of men with special interests of their own as op- 
posed to the mass of the laity, is, however, productive 
of great mischief, and as far as possible must be 
discouraged. It must be remembered, however, that 
this matter is one of mere form and government, 
and not of divine ordination, and ^does not go to 
the root of religion. The positive necessities of 
society must to a great extent regulate this 
organization of priesthood, whether it is to be an 
order of birth, or ordination, or election for superior 
gifts. An order of men selected for the priestly 
office, and devoting their life's best energies to 
its discharge, is absolutely necessary in the best 
interests of religion. 

XXXI. The Theist believes that for purposes of 
congregational prayer, temples and prayer-houses^ 
large and tasteful, are absolutely needed. On 
occasions, the pomp and splendour of worship, 
music and artful decoration, if these do not tend to 
obliterate from the mind that heartfelt prayer and 
thanksgiving are the essentials of all worship, are 
great helps in humanizing the minds of men, and 
inspiring them with devotion. 

XXXII. The Theist believes that the observance 
of occasional festivals and anniversary days is an 
institution which is absolutely needed in the present 
circumstances of society, as inspiring men .with 
especial devotion, and drawing them away for a 
time at least, from the absorbing interests of the 
world, ani solemnly warning them to look to their 
account with God. Men, moreover, are so weighed 

276 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

down with the cares of life, that express occasional 
relief for brief holiday times is necessary to unbend 
the soul, and let it enjoy rest and quiet ease for 
a moment under the shelter of religion. 

XXXIII. The Theist believes that the solemn events 
of life, births, initiations, marriages and deaths, 
ought to be clothed with a religious sanction, and 
that these occasions should be marked with special 
services and observances invoking God's blessing 
on the parties concerned, so as to impress them 
with the solemn responsibility of the acts so 
commemorated, and that such occasions should be 
celebrated by the practice of free bounty to the 
poor and the helpless. It is in this connection 
only that Shraddha ceremony in the honour of the & 
dead mry be performed on occasions to edify the soul. 

XXXIV. The Theist believes that religious teach- 
ing should chiefly be directed to the inculcation of 
the unselfish and austere and self-denying virtues ; 
that error on the side of charity, mercy, bene- 
volence and self-restraint is welcome, for the natural 
selfish instincts are sufficiently strong to correct any 
occasional excess on this side. Religious enthusiasm 
too, is so rare a gift that we cannot make too much 
of it, where it is found in any strength, though 
.oftentimes, if ill-regulated, it has a tendency to slide 
into fanaticism. 

XXXV. The Theist believes that the notion of 
local sanctity which induces men to go on pilgrim- 
ages has a foundation in reason, in that strange places 
by their natural scenery or their historical associations, 

A Theisfs Confession of Faith. 277 

are oftentimes more fitted to move the religious 
passion or devotion in the soul than those witk 
which men have grown familiar, and this help . to 
religion should not be neglected. At the same 
time, this feeling of local sanctity is in great 
danger of dragging the soul into the jbonds of fetishism, 
and therefore, must be kept under proper control. 

XXXVI. The Theist believes in the great influence 
for good which contact with superior or sanctified 
souls exerts in developing the religious temperament 
in us. At the same time, the absolute necessity of 
a Guru, teacher, or a mediator or a priest has been 
asserted in such extravagant terms in some systems 
of faith, that one cannot protest too emphatically 
against the assumption that no man can save himself 
except by his own single efforts. 

XXXVII. The necessity of a mediator or redeemer 
between God and man is also so strongly insisted upon 
in .some religions that we must always be on our 
guard not to forget that the work of regeneration 
is one of self-effort alone, and cannot be done by 
substitution. The assistance of a teacher or a 
friendly guide or master, endowed with superior gifts 
and virtues, is of course necessary in all cases, but 
there is a limit to their usefulness ; and the ultimate 
efforts and the struggle must be Ml one's own, and 
neither mediator nor teacher can help us much. ' No 
man has supererogatory merits which he can spare 
to save other souls from perdition, and the doctrine 
of a substitutive or purchased salvation of one soul 
by the superior merits of another is not grounded 

278 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

in our consciousness, and is moreover opposed to 
our experience of God's government. 

XXXVIII. The Theist believes that the rights of 
individual conscience are paramount over all other con- 
siderations of mere political and social expediency, 
and are limited 'only by the fact, that there is no 
outrage done to morality, and that the toleration of 
no man's right extends to the imposition of any 
restraint upon the equally free exercise of other 
people's rights. No man or body of men can set 
up claims to infallibility in matters of religion, and 
such claims, when set up, must be resisted, because 
they are false, and, if once allowed, they tend to 
dwarf men's intellect, reduce them to a slavery, 
which is the more mischievous for being unconscious. 

XXXIX. The Theist acknowledges no distinction 
between the province of Reason and the province of 
Faith in matters of religion. Faith is practical and 
earnest reason. Authority has therefore, no more 
potent claim in matters of religion than in kindred 
social and political sciences. It is to be revered and not 
lightly questioned, but beyond this the immunity 
does not extend to prohibit the use of reason in 
matters of Faith. 


THE idea of holding periodical gatherings in 
, each Presidency for the discussion of Provincial 
matters of public interest is a legitimate 
off-shoot of the great National Gatherings which have 
now become an institution of the land. This year 
these gatherings have been held in all the three 
Presidencies and it is obvious that this success 
indicates a healthy growth of public sentiment. In 
the Madras Presidency the political gatherings in 
that Province have always been accompanied by the 
friends of Social Reform utilizing the occasion on 
the analogy of the great national gatherings of 
the Congress and the Conference to meet together 
for the discussion of social subjects, and though 
hitherto in the political Conferences held in this 
Presidency, it has not been found possible to fallow 
this example, it is a matter of great satisfaction to 
find that our Satara friends have realized the 
necessity of supplementing the work of the Political 

* Address, Provincial Social Conference, Satara, May, 1900. 

280 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

Conference by inviting the friends of social reform 
to come together and take stock of our gains and 
losses in the social sphere of our activities. Owing 
to the circumstances under which this work had to 
be undertaken at Satara we have had to content 
ourselves with a very brief programme, but it is to 
be hoped that the seed sown to-day will bear 
a rich fruit hereafter. 


I know there are those among us who see no 
advantage in holding local or national gatherings of 
this sort for the consideration of social topics. 
There are others who think that, though such 
gatherings may have their uses, they should not be 
joined together in place and time with the political 
meeting, as they only serve to distract the attention 
of the workers and lead to no practical results.. It 
may be of use to attempt' a brief reply to both 
these objections. 

As regards the first difficulty it seems to me to 
arise from a confusion of ideas, which is very 
prejudicial to the right appreciation of our duties 
both in the political and social sphere. The 
underlying assumption is that in politics our duties 
consist chiefly in stating our wants and grievances to 
strangers who have been placed by Providence in 
command over us and who are ill-informed about 
our real condition. Politics in this sense means 
simply formulating claims for gifts or favours which 

Congress and Conference. 281 

require no other action 6n our part. While in the 
social sphere our duties lie more exclusively with 
the regulation of our own actions in whfch outside 
help is not needed for guidance or control. As I 
understand it, this distinction between the two 
spheres of our activities is basefl on a radical 
mistake. The integrity of any human being cannot 
be broken up into separate spheres of activities 
of the sort contemplated by those who raise this 
objection. For the sake of convenience you may 
say that the rose has its beauty and its fragrance, 
but you can no more separate the fragrance from 
the beauty, and any attempt to do it can only end 
in the destruction of both. What is true of the in- 
dividual is true of the collections of individuals whom 
we may call by any name, tribe, class, or community. 
These communities are organizations and you can no 
more separate their activities except provisionally and 
for the time. Every little village in our land, how- 
ever poor it may be, has its temple and its chowdi, 
its resting place and watering place, and every town 
or city must have its township civic life made up of 
interests which are not wholly political or religious 
or commercial. The shops and the bazars, the temples 
and the theatres, the schools and the hospitals, the 
courts and the barracks, the young ?nd the old, the 
men and the women, the poor and the rich it; is 
this variety and concourse which constitute the in- 
terest of village, town, and city life. Some may rule, 
others obey ; some may advise, others follow ; but 
the distinction is only provisional and not in the 

282 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

nature of things. You cannot even build a house 
of your own where you do not keep a place for 
strangers or the wayfarer. You have to provide for 
the Gods' place of worship, a place where the thirsty, 
hungry, and the sick, may be cared for, and there 
is no man so *poor and so selfish that he does not 
share in all these varied interests and recognize their 
claims. Each concern has to be attended to in its 
own time and in its own way, but it is the whole 
collection which makes it a human interest. What is 
true in our private concerns is equally true of our 
public life. Politics is not merely petitioning and me- 
morialising for gifts and favours. Gifts and favours 
are of no value unless we have deserved the con- 
cessions by our own elevation and our own struggles* 
'You shall live by the sweat of your brow' is not a 
curse pronounced on man, but the very condition of 
his existence and growth. Whether in the political, 
social, religious, commercial, manufacturing or aesthe- 
tical spheres, in literature, science or art, in war 
or in peace, it is the individual and collective 
man who has to develop his powers by his own 
exertions in conquering the difficulties in his way. 
If he is down for the time, he has to get up with the 
whole of his strength, physical, moral and intellectual, 
and you may as well suppose that he can develop 
one of these elements of strength and neglect the 
others, as try to separate the light from the heat of 
the . sun or the beauty and fragrance from the rose. 
You cannot have a good social system when you 
find vourself low in the scale of Dolitical rights, nor 

Congress and Conference. 283 

can you be fit to exercise political rights and 
privileges unless your social system is based on 
reason and justice. You cannot have a good econo-* 
mical system when your social arrangements are imper- 
fect. If your religious ideals are low and grovelling, 
you cannot succeed in social, economical, or political 
spheres. This inter-dependence is not an accident but 
is the law of our nature. Like the members of our 
body you cannot have strength in the hands and the feet 
if your internal organs are in disorder. What applies to 
the human body holds good of the collective humanity, 
we call the society or state. It is a mistaken view 
which divorces considerations political from social and 
economical, and no man can be said to realize his 
duty in one aspect who neglects his duties in the 
other directions. 


As an example the present crisis of the famine 
may well be considered. If our social arrangements 
were as perfect as they might be made, half the 
terrors of famine would vanish and the political 
problem would be much simplified. There is no 
question which is purely political any more than 
social or economical, or even religious ; and they 
make a fatal mistake who suppose that these are 
separate departments in our composite nature. The 
same forethought, the same resolution, the same 
historical spirit, the same comparative scrutiny and 
the same strenuous endeavours are needed in all the 
spheres of our activity, and therefore, it will not 

284 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

do for us to say that in politics our duties are clear 
but not so in other spheres. The whole man has 
to be developed and perfected for his own advantage 
and the glory of God, and it is only a conception 
like this which can strengthen our efforts and crown 
them with real success. It is on this account that 
when we take stock of our wants our mind must be 
open on ajl sides ; the eyes must see, and the ears 
hear, the hands move and the feet support. This 
can only be done by our devoting attention to all 
claims. Owing to our difficulties of everyday life of 
toil and sorrow, we cannot always find time for all 
things. When we therefore, meet for one purpose of 
taking thought of our political condition, that is just 
the time when we have the spirit of unselfish 
devotion stirred up in us to approach our internal 
man in its most tender moments, and there is an 
obvious convenience in seeking to utilize the ad- 
vantages of time, place, Company and the enthusiasm 
which springs from association with equals, and you 
will thus see why the Congress and Conference gather- 
ings have been joined together. If I had the choice 
we should long since have added other spheres of 
work so as to make the national gathering really 
national in name and aims. The claims of some kind 
of work mig^.t be more absorbing, than those of 
thers, but each must have its time and place, and 
proportional attention devoted to it, and I am glad 
to. see that these considerations have weighed with 
our friends in inviting us to this gathering at 
Satara on the present occasion. 

Congress and Conference. 285 

But it may be said that our social fabric is 
not the work of human hands like the political 
institutions under which we live, and that ifl regard 
to these social customs the law has been laid 
down from time immemorial and we have only 
to follow it and it is not for 115 to attempt 
changes to suit our exigencies. This is another of 
those misconceptions for which there seems to be 
no excuse except a false pride, which makes us 
cherish dangerous delusions. As a matter of fact 
the social arrangements at present are admittedly 
not those for which we can plead the sanction of 
the great Law-givers whose names we revere in lip 
worship but whose behests we disobey at every step. 
Most of the customs which we now profess to follow 
run counter to the practices observed in the old tnnes, 
when the Institutes were written. The dependent 
status of women, the customary limits of the age 
of marriage, the prohibition of marriage to widows 
in the higher castes, the exclusive confinement of 
marriage to one's own division of the sub-castes 
into which the country has been split up, the ignor- 
ance and seclusion of women, the appropriation of 
particular castes to particular professions, the 
prohibition of foreign travel, the inequalities made by 
the license enjoyed by men and the abstentions 
enforced on women, the jealous isolation in matters 
of social intercourse as regards food and even touch, 
indiscriminate charity to certain castes for all these 
and many more alienations from the old standards 
you cannot hold the old Law givers responsible. They 

286 jEssays on Religious and Social Reform. 

are the work of human hands, concessions made to 
weakness, abuses substituted for the old healthier 
regulations. They were advisedly made by men 
whose names are not known to our Ancient History. 
They are interpolations made to bolster up the 
changes introduced about the times when the country 
had already gone from bad to worse. They are 
innovations for which no sanction can be pleaded. 
It may be they were made with the best intentions. 
Admittedly, they have failed to carry out these 
good intentions, if any, then entertained ; and in 
seeking to upset them and restore the more healthy 
ideals they superseded, the Reformers of the present 
day are certainly not open to the charge that they 
are handling roughly our time-honoured institutions. 
It i* rather for the Reformers to take their stand as 
defenders of these ancient ordinances and denounce 
those who have set God's law at definance to suit 
their own purposes. 


But, even if this were otherwise and even if it 
could be shown by a long special pleading that the 
changes made are to some extent proper deductions 
from the old textf , it is quite plain that no lapse of 
time can bar the way of reform, where such is needed 
by the exigencies of our present difficulties. Above 
all mere ordinances of Institutes, stands the law Eternal 
of justice and equality, of pity and compassion, the 
suggestions of the conscience within and of nature 
without us. We can no more resist the stream of 

Congress and Conference. 287 

these influences as working for righteousness than 
we can roll back the tide. All real prudence would 
dictate that we should take full measure of these 
influences and decide how far we must accommodate 
ourselves to the inevitable. All classes of society, 
Reformers and anti-Reformers alike, unconsciously admit 
the force of these considerations. The only difference 
between the two consists in the fact fhat while 
the latter yield unconsciously and under pressure, 
the former seek to use conscious effort to ac- 
complish the same purpose, and between the two 
victory must be for those who do not wish to drift, 
but wish to be guided by the admonitions of their 
inward monitor and the lessons of past history. 
People will visit England whether their elders like it 
or not, and the force of circumstances will prevail. 
The education of women will similarly be encouraged 
as each year rolls on. The limits of age for 
marriage will be raised. Inter-marriage restrictions 
will be dissolved. Caste exclusiveness must 
relax and the greatest freedom predominate in all 
transactions between man and man. As prudent 
men the question for us will be, shall we float with 
this current or resist it ? As these influences are 
Providential, our duty is clear and this duty becomes 
more pleasant, when we find that in so acting we 
are not only obeying God's law, but also returning 
to the ways of our forefathers, over-stepping the 
obstacles put in by our fathers in the way. 

There is one objection still which hampers the 
way of Reform. Granted that reform is desirable, 

288 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

it is still claimed that onh" the ecclesiastical heads 
of the different communities and the caste elders 
alone have legitimate authority to act in such matters, 
and that it is not for a miscellaneous crowd of people 
like ourselves to claim this privilege. To a certain 
extent the caste elders and even the Acharyas 
are moving in the right direction. In the great 
caste conferences held in all parts of India the 
Kayastha, Vaishya and other organisations that might 
be named without number, there are visible signs 
of the dead bones heaving with life of a new 
spirit. Even the Acharyas in the South, when moved 
by Native Rulers, and in some cases when not so 
moved but spontaneously have put forth efforts to 
promote what is right and proper. There is 
therefore, no occasion to quarrel with these agencies. 
They however, have their vested interests at stake 
and it will be more than human if they look at 
these things in the same light as we who feel the 
pinch are disposed to regard them. Their 
co-operation should be welcomed, but the question 
does not close here. The duty is cast upon us to 
see that the commonwealth to which we belong 
is not endangered by any vested prejudices. We 
can never forego the right of every human being 
to act in copcert with others of his own way of 
thinking and make the effort to better our condition 
with the light that is given to us and with the 
help that religion and history afford us. Of course, 
our powers are limited, but the work of education 
consists in increasing the strength of the Dowers 

Congress and Conference. 289 

by propagating both by t precept and example what 
we feel to be right and proper. We may fail or 
even miscarry, but the effort will do us incalculable 
good, and the very failure will serve as a warning. 
This is the law of all progress and we can claim 
no exemption from it. 

Lastly, it has been said that we* are so split up 
into sects and divisions, castes and sub-castes, 
that no common concert is possible for the best of 
us, and that if we mean real work we must begin 
with castes and sub-castes and not indulge in the 
dream of joint action at least, for many centuries to 
come. This argument is double-edged and has been 
used by those who do not feel with us, to damp our 
energies in the political as also the social sphere of 
action. When we examine it more carefully w,e find 
that it is more fallacious than true. Castes and sub- 
castes have no doubt their particular preferences and 
dislikes, their own evils and iniquities to account for, 
and as we see everywhere from the reports of the 
Social Conference their best men are manfully strug- 
gling to cure these evils. It should, however, not be 
forgotten that this caste difficulty is the main blot 
on our social system. The great fight has to be 
maintained here and not on *he outskirts. Quite 
independently of this circumstance, the differences be- 
tween the castes merge into minor matters by the 
side of their great similarities. In the social sphere 
of our activities all castes and even creeds are alike 
defective in not recognizing the claims of justice and 

equality, and according to the respect and freedom 

290 Essays on Religious and Social Rejonn. 

due to the female sex, and cherishing the abuse 
claimed by men as men and by the members of one 
class of imn to the disparagement of other castes. 
This furnishes the common platform on which all 
can act, and it is only the education received on 
this common platform, that can command the 
elevation and freedom, which alone will help us 
to be taller, wiser and better individually and 

I have thus, attempted to forestall by anticipa- 
tion man}' of the objections which might be and 
are urged by those who are not disposed to be 
friendly to the work of our social emancipation. With 
the work that has been done in the different Pro- 
vinces by more than a hundred Associations that are 
in full sympathy with the cause of social progress^ 
it is not my purpose here to deal. The reports oi 
the Conference for the last thirteen years furnish a living 
record to which all can refer with advantage. It 
is a record which does not show large achievements 
in accomplished facts, but to those who can read be- 
tween the lines the spirit that animates this work, 
there is a land of promise opening its vistas before 
them in a way to encourage the most despondent. To 
go no further back than the past five months, I find 
from the notes of events kept with me that even in 
this 3 ear of distress some seven re-marriages took 
place : three in the Punjab, one" in Bombay, one in the 
North- West Provinces, 'one in Madras and one in the 
Central Provinces. In Bengal, where the widow 
marriage movement commenced in Pandit Ishwar Chandra 

Congress and Conference. 291 

Vidya-Siigar's time as jnany as forty-six marriages 
were celebrated, thirty were celebrated since and 
forty-one more celebrated among the Brahnaos, making 
a total of one hundred and seventeen. Including 
the Central Provinces and the Berars, the Bombay 
Presidency has, during the last thirty years, since the 
movement began, shown more than f a hundred such 
marriages distributed equally between the Gujrathis 
and the Deccanis. The Punjab and the North-West 
Provinces show a total of more than thirty, and Madras 
presents nearly the same figure. The total of marriages 
would, therefore, be about three hundred throughout 
India in the several Provinces, in the higher castes. 

Miss Manning's ' Indian Magazine,' in one of its 
recent numbers gave the total number of Indian 
residents, mostly students studying in England, to 
be three hundred and fifteen, of whom nearly half, or 
one hundred and forty-one, were Hindus, seventy-nine 
Mahomedans, sixty-one Parsees and twenty-two 
Native Christians. These figures show how the wind is 
blowing and how the stream of events is steadily 
on the right side. The Native papers in the Punjab 
show that during the last five months some seven 
admissions of converts from Christian and Mahomedan 
Faiths were made by the Arya Samajis, and there is 
an active controversy going on for the wholesale 
admission of some hitherto despised castes. . The 
success of the Bethune College in Calcutta, and 
Female Schools and Colleges at Jullundeiy Poona, 
Ahmedabad, and Mysore has been full of promise 
in this as in previous years. Among legislative 

292 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

events next after the passing of the Mysore marriage 
laws, the most noteworthy event during the past 
five month has been the enactment of the Hindu 
Gains of Learning Bill by the Madras Council. 
The local Sabhas, such as the Deshamukha and 
Kunbi Sabhas in the Berars, the Rajput in the North- West 
Provinces, the Saunishtra in the Madras Presidency 
and the Khatris in the Punjab have held their meetings 
and passed resolutions in favour of marriage reform 
under good auspices. Many instances of late marriages 
have taken place throughout the country, also of 
inter-marriages in different parts of India. This is, 
no doubt, a brief record, but as observed before it is 
full of promise. 

The present crisis through which our ' part of 
the country is passing under the stress of plague 
and famine has intensified the necessity of taking 
adequate steps for alleviating the distress suffered by 
all classes. There are particular directions in which 
all social reform organizations might work with 
advantage in such a crisis. Many thousands of poor 
orphans have been rendered homeless, and although 
they are supported through famine by private and 
Government charity, the time is coming when with 
the rains on us, this charity will cease to flow and 
the unclaimed orphans will have to be provided for 
when che distress is over. Missionary Societies 
have pledged themselves not to effect conversion 
while the distress is at its height, and they are 
prepared io give over the children to those who will 
claim them. The rest, who will be unclaimed, will 

Congress and Conference. 293 

have to be cared for by these societies, and people 
everywhere must consider the question how to deal 
with these poor children. Freedom to return to 
their community is a charity which we all can 
display, if we have the largeness of heart to 
understand the issues involved. f The economical 
question here becomes one of religion and social 
amelioration. Equally affecting is the claim which 
has been urged on behalf of hundreds of child- 
widows who have been rendered miserable in 
consequence of the famine and the plague visitation. 
In normal times their condition was bad enough, but 
their misery has been aggravated by the misfortune 
of these hard times, and those who have any heart 
to feel for their wrongs might well be asked to take 
thought as to how their misery might be alleviated. 
The question of postponing marriages to the latest 
limit of marriageable age to the age of puberty, 
while the visitatons are upon us, will not fail 
to attract the attention both of the Reformers 
and of those who profess to be indifferent to this 
subject. These and other matters will, I doubt 
not, engage the attention of friends who are 
assembled to-day. We shall not be able to take 
any immediate action here, but if these mattevs 
allowed claims on our thoughtful consideration, 
when we go to our places the work of reform can- 
not fail to lead to some useful results. For this 
and work like this, concerted action is needed,, and 
concerted action is only possible under existing 
circumstances when we think and work together. 

294 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

A committee consisting of ail those who sympathise 
with the progress of Reform is, therefore, sorely 
needed in this part of the country to co-operate 
with similar workers elsewhere, and it is with this 
view that our work to-day will chiefly consist in 
forming such a committee and laying down the 
lines on which it is to work. This is a duty in 
which I trust you will all join, and join with a 
heart that will suffer no disappointment, but will 
strain every nerve, each within his own sphere, to 
bring about the practical well-being of our people 
in which the well-being of every individual is 
involved. This is the message that I was commis- 
sioned by friends elsewhere to communicate to you 
here, and I now commend this subject to your 
anxious care in the full conviction that the work is 
one in which we can all co-operate with advantage 
and in which no progress is possible without such 


ABOUT this time last year I had occasion, at 
the inauguration of the Conference held at 
Lucknow, to dilate on a text of Nanaka, in 
which he proclaimed himself to be ' Neither a Hindu 
nor a Mahomedan.' To-day, I find you have come 
together in the extreme North-West corner of India, 
in the land of the Five Rivers, the original home 
of. the Aryan settlers, who composed the Vedic 
hymns and performed the great sacrifices. You have 
met to-day in the land of the Rishis, where 
Vashistha and Vishwamitra lived and flourished at 
a time when the caste institution had not taken its 
root in our Indian soil, when men and women 
enjoyed freedom and equality, asceticism had not 
overshadowed the land, and life; and its sweets 
were enjoyed in a spirit of joyous satisfaction. The 
Punjab, during its eventful 1 istory, has well deserved 
the compliment, that it is the land of the Rishis. 
The question, then, naturally arises, who were these 

* Inaugural Address, Lahore Conference, 1900. 

296 Essays on Religious and Sociat Reform. 

Rishis ? What was the condition of society when 
they lived ? What thoughts stirred them, and what 
actions ennobled their lives and their struggles ? For 
most of us, long habit has rendered it impossible to 
imagine a state of society where men were not 
split up into petty divisions of caste, with its arti- 
ficial barriers, limiting men's activities and narrowing 
their sympathies. It is a revelation to many of us 
to be taken back to two or three thousand years 
ago ; to a state of society when class divisions, such 
as Brahmins and Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras, 
were unknown, or not well established, and the only 
distinction recognized in practice was between the 
Aryans and non-Aryans. To illustrate the gulf which 
separates our own times from the days when the 
Rishis flourished, we need only mention the fact 
that Lopamudra the daughter of the king of Vidarbha 
was given in marriage to Agastya. Another Raja, 
by name Lomapada gave his daughter Slants! 
in marriage to one Rishya-Shringa. The King 
Trinabindu also thus gave his daughter Gou to 
Pulasti, and Bhagiratha gave his daughter Hansi to 
Koutsa Rishi. The king Sharynti's daughter Sukanya 
was given in marriage to Chyavana Rishi. Instances 
wh^re the Brahmans gave their daughters in 
marriage to kings were also not uncommon. Thus 
Shukr-Jiarya's daughter Devayani, was given in mar- 
riage to Yay ati and Shu cacharya's daughter Kritwi to 
Anuha, Independently of marriage alliances, stories 
are told where Rishis, who were born in royal 
houses, or were Rajarshis, became, by their sanctity 

Vashistha and Vishwdmitra. 297 

and devotion, entitled to be called Brahmarshis. One 
Priyamedha was so elevated, and Shini, Gargya, 
and Trayyaruni were also so promoted to the status 
of Brahmarshis, and their progeny to that of Brahmins. 
Also Mudgala and Gritsamada, who were before kings, 
became thus Brahmins. The Brahmins, on their side, 
felt no scruple in learning the DhamnVeda, or archery: 
Agastya Muni, as is well known, was skilled in Dhan- 
urveda, and conquered the n on- Aryan king Ilvala, and 
the Kalakneyas, who were pirates on the sea-coast. 
Agniveshya was also noted for his skill in archery, 
and he was the teacher of Dronacharya, himself a 
great Brahmin commander in the wars of the Maha- 
bharata. His son Ashwatthnma, and his brother-in- 
law Kripa were similarly renowned. Inbtanccs where 
Brahmins caused the ruin of the kings of the day 
by their curses are, no doubt, more frequent than 
those where kings cursed the Brahmins and brought 
about their ruin. As illustrations of the first class, 
we may mention stories about King Nahusha and Vena 
Raja, Nahusha, as is well known, had by reason of 
his superior merits become the occupant of India's 
throne, but he made the Brahmins carry him in a 
palanquin, and Agastya Muni resented the ill-treat- 
ment and cursed him, which led to hi& downfall. 
King Vena was similarly dethroned, f imilarly, Vashis- 
tha's curse against Sahasrarjuna enabled Pau'shu- 
ruma to lop off his numeroi s hands. Vashistha is 
also mentioned as having cursed Raja Kalmashapada, 
and Rdjii Trishanku became Chandala in consequence 
of the curse. On the other hand, Vashistha himself 

298 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

did not escape unharmed. There is, besides, the 
story of Ambarisha, who was persecuted by Durvasa, 
and in the result Durvasa had to entreat Ambarisha 
to grant him pardon and withdraw the Sudarshana 
which perpetually followed him and gave him no 
rest. As regards the women, numerous stories are 
told of their remaining unmarried throughout their 
lives, and of their engaging themselves in the pursuit 
of devotional exercises or in the study of philosophy. 
The story of Ambti, who remained unmarried all her 
life, is well known. She wanted to marry with 
Shalva, but he would not take her and she would 
not accept the choice made by Bhishma for her. 
The daughter of Kunigarga also remained unmarried 
during life. Gargivachaknavi, Vadavapratitheyi and 
Sulabhumaitrai all these are historical names of 
women who passed their lives in celibacy and 
engaged in discussions on philosophic subjects in the 
court of Janaka. 

Perhaps, the most instructive of these ancient 
stories is that which is connected with the rivalry of 
Vashistha and Vishwamitra, Both these names occur 
in the Vedic hymns, and though their rivalry is 
noticeable even in these early hymns, they furnish 
.o authority for the legend which gathered round 
their rames in the period which succeeded the com- 
position of the hymns. Vashistha" is a great exponent 
of Brahmin orthodoxy The legends seek to make 
out that Vishwamitra was not by right a Brahmarshi. 
He was only a Rajarshi, and aspired to be a Brah- 
marshi. Vashistha would not support him iri this 

Vashistha and Vishwdmitra. 299 

ambition, and that accounted for their strife. Through- 
out the story Vishwamitra represents the view of 
those who try to admit the non-Aryans into th^ 
Aryan community and seek to elevate them. The 
story of Trishanku, for instance, notwithstanding its 
exaggeration, has a moral of its own. Vashistha had 
without justice condemned Trishanku to be a Chandala 
simply because he aspired to go to her.ven by the 
force of his merits. Vishwamitra took up his cause 
and performed the Yagnya, because Trishanku had 
saved his wife and children during a great famine. 
The result was that Trishanku was accepted in heaven 
notwithstanding the curse of Vashistha. The story 
of Shunah-shepa, who was the son of a Brahmin, and 
was purchased as a sacrificial victim to be offered to 
Varuna in the place of the king's son, who was first 
promised, is also full of the same liberality on the 
part of Vishwdmitra, who saved the Brahmin's life by 
his- mediation. The result of the conflict between 
Vashistha and Vishwamitra was a complete victory on 
the part of the latter, for Vashistha admitted Vishwa- 
mitra's claim to be a Brahmarshi. Vashistha's line 
was continued by his grandson, Parashara, Krishna- 
dwaipayana, Vaishampayana, Yadnyayalkya, Shukra 
Muni and Jaimini, all belonged to the ortliodox sitX 
Vishwamitra's family was connected by alliances 
with that of Bhrigu, Jamadagni and Parashara. 'The 
great Rishis who colonised Southern India were 
undoubtedly Agastya and Atri, who with their wives 
Lopamudra and Anusuya occupy a prominent place in 
the story of the Ramayana. King Rama stopped in 

300 Essays on Religions and Social Reform. 

their Ashram, and Valmiki's description of these Ash- 
rams presents a picture of these holy settlements, 
vrhich does not lose its charm even at the present 
day. These settlements were the pioneers of civili- 
zation in Southern India, There were similar estab- 
lishments in other parts of India, on the borders of 
the civilized kingdoms. The Rishi, with his wife and 
his numerous pupils, kept herds of cows, cultivated 
the land, and founded colonies or cities, and helped 
the Rajas from the north to establish their power 
in the south. Jamadagni's story of the conflict with 
Kartavirya, and the subsequent wars between Parashu- 
nima and the sons of Kartavirya, no doubt refer to 
such expansion of power. King Rama himself was 
helped by Agastya in the final struggle with King 
Ravana. Parashuraraa is said, to- have similarly carried 
on a war with the Rakshasas, which was put an end 
to by the mediation of Vashistha. The early Rishis 
were great both in peace and in war. In this respect 
the Rajarshis were as great as the Brahmarshis. 
Risabhadeo, for instance, had one hundred sons, of 
whom nine devoted themselves to meditation and philo- 
sophy and eighty-one followed the Karma-marga, and 
the remaining ten ruled over kingdoms. King Janaka 
W's great as a sovereign ruler, and greater still as 
a saint. Vamad^o was noted for his piety, devotion 
and knowledge, which came to him in his mother's 
womb. The Brahmin I ishi Balaki was taught higher 
philosophy by Ajatashatru, the Raja of Kashi. It may 
be seen that there was no monopoly of learning in 
those early times and Rajas and Brahmins sat at 

Vashistha and Vishw&mitra. 301 

the foot of each other to learn wisdom. There was, 
in fact, no permanent division of functions between 
the two orders and, therefore, they were^ somewhat 
like the temporal and spiritual lords we know of 
England. They could interchange place, and did, in 
fact, so interchange them in numerous instances. 

This brief account of the time when the Rishis 
nourished in this country naturally leads to the in- 
quiry as to how it was that in course of time Brah- 
min Rishis came practically to monopolize the title 
and deny it to the Rajas. The story of Vashistha 
and Vishwjlmitra furnishes some clue to a solution 
of this difficulty. The great names of Agyastya and 
Atri, Vashistha and Jamadagni, Bhrigu and Bharadwaja, 
Parashara and Vamdeo, Vaishampayana and Yagnya- 
valkya, Valmiki and Vyas, Kapila Muni and Shuka 
Muni, naturally carried influence with all classes of 
people. The Rajarshis were not much known for their 
authorship, and when these old families succumbed to 
foreign conquerors in the early period of the Chris- 
tian era, the new Rajput, or Jat, conquerors had no 
hold on the popular mind, and the Brahmins retain- 
ed or increased their hold on the affections of the 
people. The Puranic literature which had its birth 
about this time confirmed this superiority of the 
Brahmins, and the result was that che term Rishi 
came to be applied only to Brahmins, as being the 
only literary or cultured cl; ss of the time. Their 
predominance continued unchecked, except so far as the 
Vaishnava movement came to the relief of the non- 
Brahmin classes. The Vaishnava movement has struck 

302 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

its deepest root in the Punjab, where the ten Gurus, 
from Nanak to Guru Gobind Sinh, have effected a 
change the like . of which no other part of India can 
exhibit. The Grant h Sahib has taken the place of the 
old Vedas and Puranas, and the Gurus and their des- 
cendants occupy the place of the Brahmins. Since the 
establishment of the British rule new forces have 
been in operation, and the road is now again open 
by which the best men of all classes might aspire, 
as in the past, to be the true Rishis of the land. 
A movement which has been recently started in the 
Punjab may be accepted as a sign that you have 
begun to realize the lull significance of the need of 
creating a class of teachers who may well be trust- 
ed to take the place of the Gurus of old. The 
chief point, however, that is to be considered in 
this connection is, who should be these Gurus of 
the future. It is with this view that I have endea- 
voured to place before you a brief account of the 
true Gurus of the past, namely, the Rishis who were 
both Brahmarshis and Rajarshis, only distinguished 
from one another by their individual inclinations and 
abilities. We must keep that ideal before us if we 
mean to prove ourselves the worthy descendants of 
our earliest ancestors. Of course, the teachings and 
die methods a^d the subjects taught in these days 
must, oe made to suit our new exjgencies and envi- 
ronments, but the spirt animating the teachings must 
be the. same as that * which led the first settlers to 
cross the Vindhya Range, and establish their colonies 
in the South. By reviving our ancient traditions in 

Vashistha and Vishwdmitra. 303 

this matter we may hope in the near future to 
instil into the minds of our young generations lessons 
of devotion to learning, diversity of studies and per- 
sonal loyalty to the teacher without which no sys- 
tem of school or college education can ever bear any 
fruit. This, however, is not all. In addition to 
these lessons, our new teachers must know how to 
introduce their pupils to a correct appreciation of the 
forces which are at work in the wider world outside, 
and which, in spite of temporary checks or seeming 
reverses, represent all that is best in human efforts 
for the elevation and happiness of man. Our teachers 
must enable their pupils to reali/e the dignity of man 
as man, and to apply the necessary correctives to 
tendencies towards exclusiveness, which have grown 
in us with the growth of ages. They must see that 
our thoughts, our speech, our actions are inspired by 
a deep love of humanity, and that our conduct and 
our worship are freed where necessary from the bon- 
dage > of custom and made to conform as far as 
possible, to the surer standard of our conscience. We 
must at the same time, be careful that this class of 
teachers does not form a new order of monks. Much 
good, I am free to admit, has tyeen done in the past 
and is being done in these days, in this as well as 
other countries by those who take +he vow of HK : 
long celibacy and who consecrate their lives* to .the 
service of man and the greater glory of our Maker. 
But it may be doubted how far such men are able 
to realize life in all its fulness and in al 1 its varied 
relations, and I think our best examples in this res- 

304 Essays on Religious and Social Reform. 

pect are furnished by Agastya with his wife Lopa- 
mudra, Atri with his wife Anusuya, and Vashistha 
r r ith his wife Arundhati among the ancient Rishis, 
and in our own times by men like Dr. Bhandarkar 
on our side, Diwiin Bahadur Raghunath Row in 
Madras, Maharshi Debendra Nath Tagore, the late 
Keshab Chander Sen, Babu Pratap Chandra Mozumdar 
and Pandit Shivanath Shastri in Bengal, and Lala 
Hansa Raj and Lala Munshi Ram in your own 
province. A race that can ensure a continuance 
of such teachers can, in my opinion, never fail, 
and with the teachings of such men to guide and 
instruct and inspire us, I for one, am confident 
that the time will be hastened when we may 
be vouchsafed a sight of the Promised Land.